Hong Kong shares steady near 19-mth high, China inches higher

Mon Jan 7, 2013 8:53am GMT

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* HSI flat, H-shares +0.3 pct, CSI +0.5 pct

* Shimao to tap credit market, offshore China property shares up

* HSBC, StanChart up, Basel ruling helps

* China railway counters up after Beijing touts urban transport

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares held steady just off a 19-month high on Monday, as investors continued to chase the Chinese property and resources sectors despite signs suggesting that the rally in some large caps has become stretched.

The Hang Seng Index ended flat at 23,329.8, nearing levels set last Thursday that were its highest close since June 1, 2011. The China Enterprises Index of top Chinese listings in Hong Kong rose 0.3 percent.

In the mainland, the CSI300 of top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings rose 0.5 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.4 percent. Both hit at their highest close since mid-June.

Gains came in fairly robust volumes in both onshore and offshore China markets as their respective relative strength index (RSI) values suggest all four indexes were either at or near their most overbought levels in more than two years.

"The rally is starting to look like it's gone a bit too far ahead of fundamentals, with fast money chasing the high beta names," said Edward Huang, equity strategist at Haitong International Securities.

On Monday, HSBC Holdings rose 1.3 percent, while Standard Chartered Bank gained 0.9 percent after global regulators gave banks four more years to build up cash buffers so they can use some reserves to help struggling economies grow.

In Hong Kong, Chinese coal producers rose on hopes increased mainland demand will boost margins as temperatures in China plunged to their lowest in almost three decades. Higher coal prices will, however, crimp the profitability of power producers.

Monday's gains extended a steady climb for coal counters since Beijing said they would no longer intervene in annual coal price negotiations between sellers and utilities starting in 2013.

Yanzhou Coal rose 1.7 percent to close at its highest since May 2012, while China Resources Power dipped 3.5 percent, slipping further from a 4-1/2-year high set on Jan. 2.

Chinese railway counters and other mass transportation counters rose after official media reported Beijing's 10-year plan for urbanization could spur 4 trillion yuan worth of investment between 2011 and 2020.

China Railway Group rose 2.8 percent in Hong Kong and 3.4 percent in Shanghai.

Also, strong in the mainland markets were China's moribund B-share market, mainland shares priced in foreign currencies.

B-shares indexes in Shanghai and Shenzhen jumped 3.4 and 2.5 percent respectively on anticipation of more B-shares relisting in Hong Kong after Livzon Pharmaceutical Group Inc said trading in its shares will be suspended starting Monday.

CHINA PROPERTY A-H SHARE DIVERGENCE

Chinese property stocks in Hong Kong extended a strong start to the year in Hong Kong, but were underperformers in mainland markets as investors chose to take some profit after the sector's strong showing in 2012.

Over the weekend, Beijing unveiled detailed measures, including requiring local governments to allocate enough money and offering loan subsidises for developers, to ease funding pressure on its public housing programme this year.

Poly Real Estate fell 1.8 percent in Shanghai from its highest close since July 2009, which was set on Friday. The Shanghai property sub-index was a key underperformer among sectors, down 0.9 percent.

But in Hong Kong, smaller Chinese developers - whose shares have bigger beta values - saw the bigger percentage gains on the day after Shimao Property became the latest to tap the debt market.

Shimao shares, whose beta value of 1.9 suggests any move in its share price could double the broader market, jumped 3.3 percent to close at its highest since September 2009 as investors cheered its plan to issue U.S. dollar senior notes to refinance existing debt.

Tapping the debt market suggests Chinese companies are unlikely to tap equity markets to raise funds as developers seek to increase inventories to meet returning demand, suggesting equity stakes will not be diluted.

This follows similar successful moves made by Hopson Development and Country Garden last week to tap the credit market to raise funds, which were met with robust demand. On Monday, Hopson shares rose 6.2 percent, while Country Garden rose 3 percent.

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