December 28, 2018 / 9:05 AM / 3 months ago

Hong Kong stocks edge higher in slightly thin trade

* HSI up 0.1 pct, HSCE flat on year’s last full trading day

* Investors on sidelines to avoid year-end surprises

* Local shares down for the week after Sinopec shock

HONG KONG, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Hong Kong stocks inched higher in slightly thin trade on Friday as investors stayed cautious in the last full trading session of 2018. ** The Hang Seng index was up 0.1 percent at 25,504.20 on Friday, but was down nearly 1 percent for the week. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index was pretty much flat. ** The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares eased 0.4 percent, the IT sector was flat, the financial sector ended 0.1 percent higher and the property sector rose just shy of 0.2 percent. ** The Chinese stock market, which wrapped up its last trading day of 2018 on Friday, also edged higher, but could not overturn an otherwise bearish year. ** “Without major news stories moving the (Hong Kong) market, we saw a continuation of Thursday’s pressure, preventing a rebound,” said Linus Yip, chief strategist at First Shanghai Securities. ** The muted session came after a surprise drop in share prices on Thursday, which occurred after Reuters reported that Sinopec , the Chinese state-owned energy giant, suspended two top executives for incurring severe losses in trading. The stock was the worst performer on the Hang Seng and among H-shares, losing 5.1 percent on Friday. ** Mixed headlines emerged this week in the U.S.-China trade tussle, a key factor swinging Hong Kong shares in 2018. The White House is reportedly mulling a ban on U.S. companies purchasing equipment from Chinese manufacturers Huawei and ZTE . Meanwhile, Beijing and Washington are touting new talks in January, according to Chinese officials. ** Hong Kong had its last full trading day of 2018 on Friday. The market will trade for half a day on Monday, Dec. 31. ** Most Asian stocks advanced on Friday following a dramatic rebound on Wall Street in the previous session. MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.8 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index eased 0.3 percent. ** However, with many traders and investors either on holiday or sitting on the sidelines, Hong Kong shares struggled to gain from that overnight bounce. ** About 1.26 billion Hang Seng index shares were traded, roughly 86 percent of the market’s 30-day moving average of 1.47 billion shares a day. The volume traded in the previous trading session was 1.35 billion. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.8605 per U.S. dollar at 08:14 GMT, 0.1 percent firmer than the previous close of 6.8675. ** The top gainers among H-shares were CSPC Pharmaceutical Group Ltd, up 4.7 percent, followed by GF Securities Co Ltd , gaining 3.5 percent, and Shenzhou International Group Holdings Ltd, up by 3.3 percent. ** At close, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 18.95 percent over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. ** The short and one-factor leveraged Hang Seng index, which is designed to replicate the payoff of a short or leveraged portfolio and is linked to the movements of the Hang Seng Index, was lower by almost 0.1 percent on Friday at 5,428.75 points. (Reporting by the Noah Sin; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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