Hong Kong shares end higher on policy support hopes

* HSI +0.75%, HSCE +1.08%

* Banks, property firms lead gains

* China Q2 GDP growth misses expectation

SHANGHAI, July 15 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares ended higher on Thursday, with banks and property firms leading gains, buoyed by hopes for more government policy support after the economic growth in the second quarter missed expectations. ** At the close of trade, the Hang Seng index was up 208.81 points or 0.75% at 27,996.27. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index rose 1.08% to 10,174.27. ** The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking property sector rose 1.98% and the financial sector ended 0.95% higher. ** Postal Savings Bank of China Co Ltd gained 5.71%, China Merchants Bank Co Ltd surged 5.02%, while Country Garden Services Holdings Co Ltd gained 4.12%.

** The IT sector rose 0.6%, while the energy sector dipped 0.1%. ** China’s main Shanghai Composite index closed up 1.02% at 3,564.59, while the blue-chip CSI300 index ended up 1.35%.

** China’s economy grew less than expected in the second quarter, as slowing manufacturing activity, higher raw material costs and new COVID-19 outbreaks weighed on the recovery momentum.

** “Our greater concern is the uneven recovery that we’ve seen so far, and for China the recovery in domestic consumption is very important,” said UOB economist Woei Chen Ho in Singapore.

** Investors are watching the central bank for a shift to an easier policy stance after the People’s Bank of China cut the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves with effect from Thursday. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.78%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 1.15%. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.4586 per U.S. dollar at 08:16, 0.17% firmer than the previous close of 6.469. (Reporting by the Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Rashmi Aich)