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Hong Kong stocks widen gains on mainland market rally
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21:02, February 13, 2009

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Hong Kong stocks closed higher Friday at 13,554.67, thanks to a rally on the mainland market, but with thin turnover suggesting cautious sentiment amid a lack of clear clues from the United States economy.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index opened up 0.65 percent on Friday on hopes that U.S. home owners will get more help with their mortgages under a plan that the Barrack Obama administration was reportedly working on.

The market continued to widen its gains in the afternoon on a mainland rally before closing up 326.37 points, or 2.47 percent, reversing part of the losses incurred over the previous two sessions. Over the whole week, the index was off 100 points, with thin daily average turnover at around 40 billion HK dollars (5.13 billion U.S. dollars).

Turnover on Friday was 36.16 billion HK dollars.

Analysts said they expected further uncertainties as clues from the U.S. bailout plan were still expected to be mixed and investors tend to be cautious in this earnings season.

Market heavyweight HSBC led the gains by surging 2.5 HK dollars, or 4.27 percent, to close at 61 HK dollars, partly on news that it would likely join a couple of other blue chips to benefit from a constituents review of the Hang Seng Index.

Bank of China, a second potential gainer from the review, was up 2.37 percent at 2.16 HK dollars, while BOC Hong Kong edged up 0. 5 percent to close at 8.03 HK dollars.

The finance sub-index gained the most among the four major stock categories, moving up 541.16 points, or 2.82 percent, to close at 19,756 while the commerce and industry sub-index trailed with a gain of 2.50 percent at 7,628.55.

ICBC, the leading commercial lender on the Chinese mainland, also surged 3.18 percent at 3.57 HK dollars, and China Construction Bank gained 2.37 percent.

China Life, the insurance player, was up 3.76 percent at 23.45 HK dollars and Ping An, also based on the mainland, surged 3.19 percent to close at 37.15 HK dollars.

The mainland-based energy giants also surged, with PetroChina up 3.07 percent, Sinopec up 3.76 percent and CNOOC, 2.65 percent.

The utilities genre was up 567.33 points or 1.67 percent at 34,510.22, and the properties sub-index was 1.44 percent higher at 16,046.56.

Cheung Kong, the business conglomerate headed by multi- billionaire Li Ka-shing, went up 2.27 percent to close at 67.6 HK dollars, while SHK Properties, the leading residential developer in Hong Kong, advanced 2.65 percent at 63.95 HK dollars.

China COSCO, the shipping stock that has been volatile in recent months, closed up a modest 0.03 HK dollars, or 0.59 percent, after once dipping into negative ground.

HKEx, the only exchange operator in Hong Kong, went up 2.19 percent at 67.6 HK dollars.


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