[HONG KONG] Hong Kong shares rose on the first trading day of the new year on Friday and looked set for their best week in the last five weeks, with Chinese property and financials stocks leading the way.
The Hang Seng index was up 0.7 per cent at 23,774.40 points by the lunch break, while the China Enterprises Index gained 1.8 percent to 12,200.58.
The blue-chip index is up 1.8 per cent so far this week, while the China Enterprises Index climbed 5.6 per cent, fuelled by the strong sentiment in mainland China markets, which have surged on expectations that Beijing will roll out more stimulus measures to support the slowing economy. "Sentiment toward companies which are to be benefit from China's policy remained strong, and that fuelled demand for shares in Chinese property, banks, insurers and brokerages,"said Linus Yip, chief strategist at Hong Kong-based First Shanghai Securities.
Shares of Chinese property developers in Hong Kong surged as reports of strong December sales eased worries about the cooling housing market. China Resources Land Ltd climbed 6.6 per cent, China Overseas Land and Investments Ltd 6.5 per cent and China Vanke 7 per cent.
Ping An Insurance was up 3.4 per cent and China Life Insurance rose 2.8 per cent.
China markets were closed for a holiday on Friday and will reopen on Monday.
Casino shares fell ahead of the release of Macau's gambling revenue for December, with Wynn Macau down 2.3 per cent, and Melco Crown and Galaxy Entertainment each losing 1.8 per cent.
Macau reported during the lunch break that its gaming revenue fell 30.4 per cent year-on-year in December and was down 2.6 per cent in 2014.