March 12, 2018 / 8:49 AM / 12 days ago

Hong Kong stocks mark 5-wk closing high as trade war, rate hike fears ease

* HK->Shanghai Connect daily quota used 15.1 pct

* HSI +1.9 pct, HSCE +2.1 pct, CSI300 +0.5 pct

* Financial shares lead gains on favourable earnings expectations

March 12 (Reuters) - Hong Kong’s benchmark stock index rose nearly 2 percent to its highest closing level in five weeks on Monday, as fears of a global trade war, and faster U.S. rate hikes eased. ** The rally was lead by financial firms as investors expect improving profitability at Chinese lenders and insurers listed in Hong Kong. Brokerage China Investment Securities (HK) also attributed the market strength to “expectations of foreign capital inflows and China’s economic restructuring.”

** The Hang Seng index rose 1.9 percent to 31,594.33, while the China Enterprises Index gained 2.1 percent to 12,697.31 points.

** Inflation worries faded on Friday after U.S. data showed non-farm payrolls jumped by 313,000 jobs last month, but annual growth in average hourly earnings slowed to 2.6 percent after a spike in January. ** Trade war fears also ebbed further as the United States opened the way for more exemptions from its steel and aluminum tariffs on Friday, after pressure from allies and intense lobbying from lawmakers. **The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares rose 1.9 percent while the IT sector rose 2.58 percent, the financial sector was 2.38 percent higher and the property sector gained 0.92 percent. ** The top gainer on Hang Seng was China Construction Bank Corp up 3.66 percent, while the biggest loser was Hengan International Group Company Ltd, which was down 0.90 percent. ** China’s main Shanghai Composite index closed up 0.58 percent at 3,307.1656 points while its blue-chip CSI300 index ended up 0.46 percent. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 1.39 percent while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 1.65 percent. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.3237 per U.S. dollar at 08:27 GMT, 0.19 percent firmer than the previous close of 6.336. ** The top gainers among H-shares were Air China Ltd up 4.88 percent, followed by Agricultural Bank of China Ltd gaining 4.68 percent and China Construction Bank Corp up by 3.66 percent. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were CGN Power Co Ltd which was down 2.30 percent, Hengan International Group Company Ltd which fell 0.9 percent and Great Wall Motor Co Ltd down by 0.2 percent. ** About 2.24 billion Hang Seng index shares were traded, roughly 84.8 percent of the market’s 30-day moving average of 2.64 billion shares a day. The volume traded in the previous trading session was 1.52 billion. ** At close, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 25.81 percent over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. (Reporting by the Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Sunil Nair)

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