* HSI snaps six-week rally on doubts about US, China
* Huiyuan Juice soars on possibility of Coke tie-up
* ICBC drops ahead of share lock-in expiry
* ZTE drops on broker downgrades after earnings (Updates to close)
By Parvathy Ullatil
HONG KONG, April 24 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares rose 0.3 percent on Friday, with Huiyuan Juice spiking on hopes of a deal with Coca-Cola, but a run of six straight weekly gains ended as doubts emerged about the health of the financial sector and the pace of recovery in China.
Shares in China’s top lender ICBC (1398.HK) dropped 2.5 percent on expectations of a sell-down of a strategic foreign holding in bank when a big chunk of shares emerge from their lock-in period on Tuesday. [ID:nHKG214642]
The benchmark Hang Seng Index .HSI ended 44.39 points higher at 15,258.85, but dropped 2.2 percent on week to end its longest weekly winning run since late 2007.
It is still up 12.4 percent this month and 6 percent higher than the beginning of the year.
Geoff Lewis, head of investment services in Hong Kong for JP Morgan Asset Management, said the Hong Kong market “had run ahead of itself a little bit,” prompting the firm to switch to a neutral weight on Hong Kong from an overweight within its Asia-Pacific portfolio.
Turnover dropped to a two-and-a-half week low of HK$51.7 billion, suggesting the the market could struggle to extend its recent rally, said analysts.
Daily average turnover so far in April has risen to HK$65 billion from under HK$45 billion in the first quarter of 2009, helping bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing (0388.HK) rise by as much as three-quarters since early March. The stock added 1.8 percent on Friday.
China Huiyuan Juice (1886.HK) briefly jumped more than 24 percent to a five-week high on Friday as news that Coca-Cola (KO.N) was in informal talks with the company fuelled renewed hopes for a possible tie-up between the firms. [ID:nHKG255060]
Shares in China’s top juice maker hit HK$6.3 but retreated to close at HK$5.74, up 13.4 percent. After Coke’s buyout deal was scuttled by Beijing in March, shares in the Chinese juice maker had shed more than half their value.
“Coke has deep pockets, they have budgeted $2 billion for this market and Huiyuan can benefit from Coke’s ability to spend heavily on marketing and advertising, its relatively superior distribution network and the way it can push out new products quickly,” said Renee Tai, analyst with CIMB-GK Research.
At the end of the day’s trade, Huiyuan said it was unaware of the source of news reports on its resumed discussion with Coke and added it was “not in possession of any price-sensitive information”. [ID:HKG228056]
Handset makers also outperformed, rising sharply for a second straight day after Goldman Sachs raised its rating on the stocks. The world’s largest cellphone maker, Foxconn International Holdings (2038.HK), vaulted 9.6 percent after the brokerage upgraded the stock to neutral from sell on an improved outlook from its customers Nokia and LG.
BYD Electronics (0285.HK), which was raised to a buy from neutral, jumped 9.4 percent to HK$4.18.
The China Enterprises Index .HSCE of top mainland companies gained 0.5 percent at 8,979.18.
Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE (0763.HK) dropped 3.7 percent despite posting a 29 percent rise in first-quarter earnings amid strong revenue growth and stable profit margins, as analysts deemed the stock too expensive after its recent run-up.
HSBC downgraded the stock to neutral from overweight after the stock rose over 250 percent from its November 2008 lows, driven by a surge in capital expenditure by China’s wireless companies. Nomura cut the stock to neutral from buy, arguing that the potential benefits of the increased capex spending was already factored into ZTE’s share price.
Gold miner Zijin Mining (2899.HK) rose 7.2 percent to HK$6.23 after the price of the precious metal rallied to a three-week high. (Additional reporting by Dan Burns; Editing by Lincoln Feast)