May 15 (Reuters) - Hong Kong stocks rebounded to close higher on Wednesday as weak economic data from China reinforced expectations that Beijing will roll out more stimulus, while a slight softening in rhetoric from U.S. President Donald Trump eased trade worries.
** The Hang Seng index ended up 0.5% at 28,268.71, while the China Enterprises Index gained 0.4% to 10,804.14 points.
** Growth in China’s industrial output slowed more than expected to 5.4% in April from a year earlier, pulling back from a surprising strong 4-1/2-year high of 8.5% in March. Retail sales were also worse than expected, with the headline number rising 7.2%, the slowest pace since May 2003.
** The lacklustre April activity data, which also includes shrinking exports and stumbling investment, increases “the likelihood of further policy easing”, Capital Economics wrote in a note.
** Fears of further escalation in trade tensions were slightly eased after Trump cited the trade war with China “a little squabble” and insisted talks between the world’s two largest economies had not collapsed.
** The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares ended 0.4 percent firmer, while the IT sector closed up 1.55 percent, the financial sector ended 0.77 percent higher and the property sector closed 0.39 percent lower. ** The top gainer on the Hang Seng was WH Group Ltd, which ended 5.14 percent higher, while the biggest loser was CITIC Ltd, which closed 1.47 percent lower. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.38 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.58 percent. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.8707 per U.S. dollar, as of 0824 GMT, 0.07 percent firmer than previous close of 6.8753. ** The top gainers among H-shares were China Tower Corp Ltd , which ended 2.5 percent higher, followed by New China Life Insurance Co Ltd, which closed up 1.87 percent and China Pacific Insurance Group Co Ltd, which ended 1.72 percent firmer. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were China Gas Holdings Ltd, which ended down 2.44 percent, CITIC Ltd, which closed 1.5 percent lower and SINOPHARM GROUP CO LTD, which ended 1.3 percent weaker. (Reporting by the Shanghai Newsroom, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)