April 17, 2014 / 5:00 AM / in 4 years

Hong Kong shares supported by blue chips, China stocks flat

* FTZ stocks up after foreign investment rules simplified

* Property stocks down ahead of data

* Tencent gains on plans to bring Candy Crush to China

By Natalie Thomas

BEIJING, April 17 (Reuters) - China stocks traded flat on Thursday, as investors piled into Shanghai Free Trade Zone related stocks but retreated from property firms ahead of data expected to show the sector slowed.

Hong Kong stocks eked out modest gains, buoyed by several index heavyweights in a subdued trading session as investors geared up for the long Easter weekend.

By midday, the CSI300 index of the largest Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings was up 0.1 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index was flat at 2,105.3 points.

The Hang Seng Index rose 0.2 percent to 22,749.9 points. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong gained 0.2 percent.

On the mainland, shares in several major property developers eased as investors braced themselves for data due on Friday which is expected to show house price growth slowed in March.

Official data on Wednesday also weighed on sentiment, after it showed that revenues from property sales dropped 5.2 percent in the first quarter compared with the previous year.

Shares in China Fortune Land Co Ltd were down 3.4 percent by the lunch break, while Metro Land Corp Ltd lost 2.7 percent, and Beijing Capital Development Co Ltd shed 1.2 percent.

Instead, investors piled into shares linked to the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, after state media reported on Thursday that foreign firms could directly invest in the zone via banks, removing the need to first file paperwork with the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

While shares jumped on the news, analysts said the gains were more speculative than based on any concrete developments.

“I think this is more of a short-term fluctuation in the market,” Said Cao Xuefeng, head of research Huaxi Securities in Chengdu.

Shares in Shanghai Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone Development Co Ltd leapt 4.3 percent, while shares in Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free trade Zone Development Co Ltd gained 3.3 percent. Shanghai Pudong Road and Bridge Construction Co Ltd shares were up 2.2 percent.

In Hong Kong, Tencent was the biggest influence on the Hang Seng, with shares in the Internet giant up 1.4 percent on the news that the company would launch a Chinese version of King Digital Entertainment Plc’s explosively popular “Candy Crush Saga” game in China.

Shares in telecommunications conglomerate PCCW also gained 1.3 percent, after the company said it raised over HK$50 million ($6.45 million) from sales of more than 9 million shares in its subsidiary Pacific Century Premium Development .

Gains in China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd also boosted index performance ahead of Q1 earnings data due after markets close on Thursday. At midday, shares in the country’s second-biggest mobile carrier by subscribers were up 1.2 percent.

The Hong Kong stock exchange will close for Good Friday on April 18 and Easter Monday on April 21.

$1 = 7.7544 Hong Kong dollars Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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