April 6, 2018 / 5:36 AM / 6 months ago

Hong Kong stocks, China H-shares rise but fresh trade threats sap gains

* Hang Seng index, China Enterprises index HSCE rise 1.3 pct HSI financial sub-index, property index both up 1.3 pct

HONG KONG, April 6 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares rose on Friday, catching up to global market gains in the previous session, but the threat of fresh U.S. tariffs against China quickly pulled stocks off their early highs.

The blue-chip Hang Seng index was up 0.8 percent, or 240.23 points, at 29,762,29 by early afternoon, with the Hang Seng China Enterprises index showing a similar gain to 11,942.10.

The indexes had climbed over 1.2 percent in early dealings as traders returned from a holiday and caught up to Thursday’s global gains, but they quickly turned tail amid a fresh escalation in the U.S.-China trade dispute.

President Donald Trump on Thursday directed U.S. trade officials to identify additional tariffs on $100 billion of Chinese imports.

China responded within hours, saying it would take new comprehensive measures to safeguard the country’s interests if the United States sticks to its protectionist behaviour.

“Investors are taking a cautious and prudent approach before they see any reaction from China,” said Linus Yip, chief strategist at First Shanghai Securities.

The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares rose 1.99 percent while the IT sector rose 1.69 percent, the financial sector was 1.27 percent higher and property sector rose 1.28 percent.

The top gainer on Hang Seng was New World Development up 3.1 percent, while the biggest loser was WH Group Ltd which was down 2.76 percent.

Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index flitted in and out of positive territory on lingering hopes that Washington and Beijing will be able to negotiate a compromise and avoid a full-blown trade war. Mainland China markets were closed for a holiday.

The top gainers among H-shares were Anhui Conch Cement Co Ltd up 4.96 percent, followed by Air China agining 3.53 percent and China Vanke Co Ltd rising 3.32 percent.

The three biggest percentage decliners in H-shares were Sinopharm Group Co Ltd which was down 2.36 percent, Hengan International Group Co Ltd, which fell 0.71 percent, and PICC Property and Casualty which was down 0.59 percent. (Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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