* HSI +0.1 pct, H-shares +0.2 pct, CSI300 +0.1 pct
* Official media confirm Sept 29 as Shanghai trade zone launch
* China Merchants hit more than 2-year high, Goldman upgrade helps
* China property weak again, land use controls reported
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Hong Kong and China shares inched higher in early Wednesday trade, as investors welcomed official confirmation of the Sept. 29 launch of Shanghai’s free trade zone, seen as an testbed for financial reforms.
At midday, the CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-shares was up 0.1 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.3 percent.
The Hang Seng Index was up 0.1 percent to 23,210.2 points, while the China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong rose 0.2 percent.
“Other than some news-driven moves like the Shanghai free trade zone, there hasn’t been a lot of fresh buying, a lot of rotation is going on,” said Jackson Wong, Tanrich Securities’ vice-president for equity sales.
Shanghai-based ports-to-logistics conglomerate China Merchants Holdings came off its highest intra-day level in more than two years to go into the midday break up 5.2 percent.
It is now up nearly 36 percent from its Aug. 25 close.
Goldman Sachs analysts on Wednesday upgraded China Merchants Holdings H-share from “neutral” to “buy,” saying the company could benefit from more efficient Shanghai port operations under the free trade zone initiative.
In the mainland, Shanghai International Port jumped 5.6 percent and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank climbed 1.9 percent.
Shanghai Lujiazui Finance & Trade Zone Development Co Ltd , which rose by the 10 percent limit on Tuesday, was again up that much. Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone Development Co Ltd also spiked 10 percent.
The Shanghai city government declined to comment further on the free trade zone at its regularly-scheduled weekly press conference on Wednesday morning, saying details “will be revealed at a relevant time”.
Retail and other tourism-related counters were also strong ahead of a week-long holiday starting next Tuesday. Beijing Wangfujing Departmental Stores soared 10 percent in Shanghai, while Macau casino counters were also stronger.
Chinese sports brands Li Ning and ANTA Sports also posted robust gains, up 4.7 and 3.3 percent, respectively. If gains hold, this will be ANTA’s second-straight advance since finishing on Monday at its lowest since early August.
Credit Suisse earlier this week issued a note advising clients to buy ANTA’s stock on weakness. UBS said concerns of a weak performance at a trade fair this week were overdone.
The Chinese property sector was again weaker after official media reported that Jiangsu issued rules requiring local governments in the province to obtain provincial approval before acquiring and selling land-use rights.
Poly Real Estate fell 1.5 percent in Shanghai and China Vanke shed 0.7 percent in Shenzhen. In Hong Kong, China Resources Land dropped 2 percent while China Overseas Land was down 0.9 percent.