* HSI +0.6 pct, H-shares +0.5 pct, CSI300 +0.8 pct
* AIA, Sands China at record highs on robust quarterly earnings
* Lenovo sinks after media report on possible Blackberry bid
* China railway stocks up on hopes for overseas projects
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, Oct 18 (Reuters) - China and Hong Kong shares moved higher early on Friday after a slew of official Chinese data came in broadly within expectations.
However, the gains came in relatively muted volumes. Macau casino operator Sands China and Asian insurance giant AIA Group were notable outperformers, hitting record highs after posting robust quarterly results.
At midday, the CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings had climbed 0.8 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index was 0.4 percent. On the week, they were down 1.5 and 1.4 percent, respectively.
The Hang Seng Index, which closed on Thursday at its lowest since Oct. 10, gained 0.6 percent to 23,243.5 points. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong rose 0.5 percent, stymied again by a key technical level at its 200-day moving average.
The Hong Kong indexes were up 0.1 and 0.4 percent this week, respectively.
“The in-line data is a relief for some” as expectations for weaker numbers had increased this week, said Hong Hao, chief strategist at Bank of Communications International Securities.
The Chinese banking sector, often seen as a proxy for growth in the world’s second-largest economy, was broadly higher in the mainland but weak in Hong Kong. China Minsheng Bank rose 1.7 percent in Shanghai, but slipped 0.6 percent in Hong Kong.
China’s economy grew 7.8 percent in the third quarter, its fastest pace this year and in line with expectations. Still, the country’s statistics bureau said that growth showed signs of slowing in September.
September fixed asset investment and retail sales both came in slightly weaker than expectations, while factory output slightly topped consensus but still slowed from August.
The Chinese property sector was weak after official data sparked some anxiety the government might impose new curbs to cool business. Real estate investment increased 19.7 percent in the first nine months of 2013 from a year earlier, compared with a 19.3 percent in the first eight months.
In Hong Kong, Guangzhou R&F Properties sank 2.2 percent. Greentown China shed 1.4 percent and China Resources Land slid 1.5 percent to its lowest in a week.
Lenovo Group sank 2.6 percent after the Wall Street Journal reported the Chinese PC maker signed a non-disclosure deal to examine Blackberry’s books with a view to bidding for the beleaguered technology firm.
Sands China surged 8.2 percent to a record high after the Macau casino operator said net revenue surged nearly 43 percent to $2.3 billion in the third quarter.
AIA Group spiked 4.2 percent to a new peak after announcing record quarterly results as the value of new businesses soared 26 percent to $379 million.
Jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook climbed 3.1 percent to its highest since January after posting same-store sales growth of 12 percent in the quarter ended Sept 30, while revenue in China grew by 33 percent from the year-earlier period.
Chinese railway counters were stronger after local media reported Premier Li Keqiang said in his meeting with visiting Australian leaders that the two countries could cooperate in the railway sector.
CSR Corp rose 0.9 percent in Hong Kong and 1.2 percent in Shanghai, increasing this week’s gains, after comments by Li raised hopes of cooperation with Thailand.