Hong Kong, China shares rise; set for 1st weekly gain in three

Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:08am GMT

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* HSI +0.3 pct, H-shares +0.7 pct, CSI300 +0.8 pct

* China insurers lead indexes higher, buoyed by positive A-shares

* SAIC hits 2-week high after JV partner VW raises China investment

* Liquor makers rebound, trimming steep weekly losses

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Onshore Chinese shares rebounded in thin Friday trade, buoying the Hong Kong market as investors hunted for bargains in laggard large cap counters after incoming Premier Li Keqiang laid the case for market reforms in the world's second-largest economy.

Stock indexes in both China and Hong Kong are set for their first weekly gains in three, with the Hang Seng Index poised to post its best weekly performance since it jumped 4.2 percent in the week of Sept. 10-14.

The Hang Seng Index went into the midday trading break up 0.3 percent at 21,805, its highest since Nov. 8. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong climbed 0.7 percent. On the week, they are each up more than 3 percent.

In the mainland, the CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings rose 0.8 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index firmed 0.7 percent. On the week, they are each now up 0.8 percent.

"Comments from the Vice-Premier have definitely bolstered sentiment today, reassuring investors that the incoming top leaders are committed to moving towards reform as the country moves into a new phase of economic development," said Chen Yi, a Shanghai-based analyst with Xiangcai Securities.

Vice-Premier Li Keqiang stressed the role of reform in China's social and economic development, calling for pioneering measures and a bigger role for the market amid medium-speed growth in the long term, according to the state-run China Securities Journal.

Chinese insurers, considered A-share proxy plays due to their large amounts of investment in the mainland markets, were among the biggest index boosts.

China Life Insurance was up 1.3 percent in Hong Kong and 2.6 percent in Shanghai. Its smaller rival, Ping An jumped 1.2 percent in Hong Kong and 2.8 percent in Shanghai.

SAIC Motor jumped 3.3 percent to its highest in almost two weeks in Shanghai after local media reported one of its joint venture partner Volkswagen AG plans to speed up its expansion in China.

Alcohol producers rebounded, trimming steep losses this week triggered after rival booze maker Jiugui Liquour was implicated in a press report that it had excessive amounts of potentially toxic substances in its products.

Jiugui's Shenzhen shares, suspended since Monday, slumped the maximum 10 percent on the resumption of trade on Friday. The company apologised in an exchange filing late on Thursday, promising to resolve the issue, according to state news agency Xinhua, after official tests substantiated earlier allegations.

Wuliangye rose 1.2 percent, rebounding off its lowest level in more than two years on Thursday and set for a first gain in seven days. It is still down 10 percent on the week, poised for its worst weekly showing in nearly four years.

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