* HSI -0.3 pct, H-shares -0.8 pct, CSI300 +0.2 pct
* Trading volume low ahead of 2-day holiday in China
* Respite for Chinese banks lifts A-share indexes
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, April 3 China shares were slightly
higher at the midday break on Wednesday, as strength in the
battered banking sector helped lift benchmark indexes off
multi-week lows ahead of a two-day public holiday.
Hong Kong markets, which will also be shut on Thursday but
resume trading on Friday, slipped with Chinese oil giants weaker
on lower oil prices.
The CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen
listings was up 0.2 percent from Tuesday's 2-1/2-month closing
low. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.1 percent to
2,230.8, after earlier testing support at its 100-day moving
average of about 2,221.8.
Both indexes have traded above that technical level since
mid-December, which now served as key chart support. The
Shanghai Composite has tumbled more than 8 percent and the
CSI300 more than 10 percent from a Feb. 6 high.
The Hang Seng Index slipped 0.3 percent, while the
China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in
Hong Kong fell 0.8 percent. Both went into the midday trading
break well off the day's highs.
"It's rather quiet today partly because of the holiday
tomorrow," said Jackson Wong, Tanrich Securities' vice-president
for equity sales. "We need a catalyst to break out of the
range-bound trade of the last two weeks."
That could come as soon as next week when China is due to
start releasing a slew of monthly and quarterly economic data.
March data for inflation data is due on April 9 and trade on
April 10 with money supply expected between April 10 and 15.
First quarter GDP growth data is due on April 15 along with
industrial output, retail sales and urban investment data for
March. Data on Wednesday showed growth in China's services
sector rose to multi-month highs in March.
On Wednesday, Chinese banks A-shares were among the leading
index boosts. China Merchants Bank climbed 2 percent
in Shanghai, further helped by news reports that Chinese
regulators have approved its acquisition of a 50 percent stake
in insurer CIGNA-CMC.
Shares of China Minsheng Bank rose 0.7 percent
in Shanghai, but remained bounded in a range it has been trading
in the last week after it tumbled 8.8 percent on March 28 after
regulators announced a crackdown on financial risk.
Its Hong Kong listing is set for a third-straight
loss, diving 2.2 percent to its lowest since Dec. 31.
The Chinese energy sector was broadly weak after Chinese
media reported that fuel prices could fall next week with Brent
crude slipping toward $110 a barrel on Wednesday, following the
adoption of a new petroleum pricing framework announced last
In Hong Kong, CNOOC shed 1.1 percent to near a
one-week low while PetroChina slid 0.8 percent.