China stocks rise on property boost; Hong Kong slips as COVID weighs

(Updates to market close)

SHANGHAI, Nov 25 (Reuters) - China stocks rose on Friday, boosted by property developers after the country’s latest measures to support the beleaguered sector, while Hong Kong shares were dragged down by tech firms as China reported record-high new daily COVID-19 cases.

The blue-chip CSI 300 Index rose 0.5% at close, while the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.4%.

However, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished down 0.5%, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index declined 0.4%.

China’s biggest commercial banks have pledged at least $162 billion in fresh credit to property developers, bolstering recent regulatory measures rolled out to ease a stifling cash crunch in the sector and lifting property shares.

Meanwhile, sources told Reuters that China’s central bank will offer cheap loans to financial firms for buying bonds issued by property developers, the strongest policy support yet for the crisis-hit sector.

Chinese real estate developers jumped 6.8%, and banks gained 2.3%. Hong Kong-listed mainland property developers surged 4.5%.

Shares of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) also shone, as investors heed regulators’ call to build a market valuation system “with Chinese characteristics”. An index measuring China infrastructure companies, with most constituents being SOEs, rose 3.2%.

Most other sectors declined, as China on Friday reported another record high of daily COVID-19 cases, with cities across the country enforcing measures and curbs to control outbreaks.

“Concerns over the reopening outlook rose again with domestic COVID-19 cases rising and tightening measures returning to a number of major cities,” said Morgan Stanley analysts in a note.

“A-share sentiment likely to stay volatile near term as China’s preparation for reopening fluctuates with mixed signals.”

For the week, the CSI 300 Index slipped 0.7% and the Hang Seng Index declined 2.3%.

The Chief Investment Office (CIO) at UBS Securities said it will take time before a directional trend in Chinese equities can be seen and investors should continue to position themselves for a slow but gradual recovery in China’s economy via non-directional opportunities.

Tech giants listed in Hong Kong lost 2.3% to drag the city’s Hang Seng benchmark on mainland’s COVID worries, with index heavyweights Tencent and Alibaba down more than 2% each. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; editing by Uttaresh.V and Raissa Kasolowsky)