* HSI -0.2 pct, H-shares -0.6 pct, CSI300 +0.2 pct
* Rare earth firms down after China loses appeal at WTO
* China Unicom drops as earnings disappoint
* Melco Crown sinks on lacklustre results and Taiwan probe
(Updates to midday)
By Grace Li
HONG KONG, Aug 8 China shares eked out slim
gains in choppy trade on Friday, buoyed by better-than-expected
Chinese export growth that helped offset concern about the
cooling housing market, while Hong Kong pared its early morning
China's July exports surged 14.5 percent from a year
earlier, nearly twice the expected increase, while imports
posted a surprising fall of 1.6 percent, the General
Administration of Customs said on Friday.
At midday, the CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and
Shenzhen A-share listings rose 0.2 percent, while the Shanghai
Composite Index was up 0.3 percent at 2,193.15 points.
If the gains hold, Friday would be their first winning session
On the week, the mainland indexes were up 0.1 and 0.4
The Hang Seng Index, at one point down 0.8 percent,
was off 0.2 percent at 24,339.54 points at midday. The China
Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong
Kong fell 0.6 percent. They are now down 0.8 and 1.5 percent
this week, respectively.
Larry Jiang, chief strategist at Guotai Junan International
Securities, said the fall in Hong Kong bourses coincided with a
continuing slides in the U.S. market.
"Global funds are trying to take a breath after recent
highs," Jiang said. "After the Hang Seng climbed to near 25,000
points, it has to consolidate a bit in the absence of any good
Soft survey results on China's services sector and some
disappointing earnings also weighed on the markets, he added.
Rare earth producers suffered losses after China lost an
appeal at the World Trade Organization in a case brought by the
United States, the European Union and Japan to challenge China's
restrictions on exports of rare earths.
Inner Mongolia BaoTou Steel Union and Aluminum
Corp of China were top index drags in Shanghai, each
shedding 4.2 percent.
Shares of the two companies surged earlier this week on l
government approval to establish rare earth groups.
China Unicom slid 2.3 percent to a near 4-week
low. The country's second-biggest wireless carrier on Thursday
reported first-half net income lower than expectations, due to
China's new value-added tax programme.
Shares in Macau casino operator Melco Crown fell
4.8 percent after it posted second-quarter earnings that missed
consensus due to increased labour costs and sluggish growth in
the world's biggest gambling hub.
The company also announced on Thursday night that a branch
office in Taiwan has been indicted for alleged violations of
local banking and foreign exchange laws.
Hong Kong-listed Chinese financial firms were broadly lower,
with China's big four banks down between 0.5 and 1.1 percent.
"Investors were betting on their rebounds and are now taking
profits after the gains. It's not that they truly believe there
are fundamental changes in these companies," Jiang said.
(Editing by Richard Borsuk)