April 6, 2018 / 8:40 AM / 10 months ago

Hong Kong stocks, China H-shares end higher but trade woes cap gains

* Hang Seng index ends up 1.1 pct China Enterprises index HSCE rises 0.9 pct HSI financial sub-index climbs 1 pct; property sector up 1.2 pct

HONG KONG, April 6 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares rose on Friday, catching up to global market gains in the previous session, but the threat of fresh U.S. tariffs against China capped gains and prompted investors to switch to sectors seen as less exposed to the worsening trade dispute.

The benchmark blue chip Hang Seng index ended up 1.1 percent, or 326.25 points, at 29,844.94, with the China’s H-shares index closing up 0.9 percent at 11,967.66.

The indexes had climbed over 1.2 percent in early dealings as traders returned from a holiday and caught up to Thursday’s global gains, but they quickly turned tail amid a fresh escalation in the U.S.-China trade dispute.

China warned it would fight back “at any cost” with fresh measures to safeguard its interests if the United States sticks to its protectionist actions, after President Donald Trump threatened an extra $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports.

“Instead of reacting to the ongoing dispute every minute, investors were reshuffling their portfolios to sectors that were less sensitive or even immune from the dispute,” said Alex Wong, a director at Ample Finance Group.

However, investors are still cautiously optimistic that Washington and Beijing will eventually be able to compromise, Wong added.

The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares rose 1.8 percent while the IT sector rose 1.58 percent, the financial sector was 1.04 percent higher and property sector rose 1.21 percent.

The top gainer on Hang Seng was Sunny Optical Technology Group Co Ltd, up 3.6 percent, while the biggest loser was WH Group Ltd, which fell 3.4 percent.

Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was marginally firmer while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.4 percent. Mainland China markets were closed for a holiday.

The top gainers among H-shares were Anhui Conch Cement Co Ltd, up 5.3 percent, followed by Shenzhou International Group Holdings Ltd gaining 3.5 percent.

The three biggest H-share decliners were Sinopharm Group Co Ltd which was down 2.3 percent and PICC Property and Casualty Co Ltd, which fell 1.3 percent.

About 1.75 billion Hang Seng index shares were traded, roughly 89.6 percent of the market’s 30-day moving average of 1.95 billion shares a day.

So far this week, the market capitalisation of the Hang Seng index has fallen 2.1 percent to HK$19.14 trillion. (Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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