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Hong Kong: Mainland demand drives stocks to 5-month highs; China rebounds

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[SHANGHAI] Hong Kong stocks climbed to a fresh five-month high on Thursday morning on bullish sentiment fuelled by Wall Street's ongoing rally and demand from China, but gave back part of their initial gains on profit-taking.

China stocks rebounded, with gains led by coal miners and metal firms, as the publication of regional governments'investment targets lifted commodities markets.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.4 per cent, to 24,092.26 points.

The Hong Kong China Enterprises Index, which tracks mainland companies listed in Hong Kong, climbed to a 15-month intraday high, up 0.2 per cent at midday, to 10,453.01 points. The index's trade volume shot up to the highest since July 2015 on Wednesday, nearly doubling the previous day's.

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Analysts said sustained southbound inflows helped the Hong Kong stock market to stage a mini-rally, attributing the mainland demand to Beijing's programme of deleveraging to tackle asset price bubbles as well as Hong Kong stocks' lower valuations versus mainland peers.

China's central bank said on Wednesday China should prudently manage its debt deleveraging process to avoid a liquidity crisis and asset bubbles - reinforcing views of monetary policy tightening on the mainland this year.

China Rater Investment Management, a Guangzhou-based hedge fund, has identified Hong Kong as its core investment market over the next few years. "Chinese investors including mutual funds and major insurers have been steadily increasing their allocation to Hong Kong stocks," said General Manager Ye Hongbin.

Mainland investors used 2.7 billion yuan (S$558.5 million) on Wednesday, or 25.6 per cent of the daily quota, compared with an average of less than 11 per cent in January.

The southbound money flow has helped narrow the price gap between Chinese listed shares and Hong Kong shares.

The gap hit its narrowest since Dec 2014 in early trading and stood at 117.94 at midday, meaning China-listed companies are on average about 18 per cent more expensive than Hong Kong peers.

A gauge of tech stocks added 1.5 per cent by the lunch break after receiving a boost from index heavyweight Tencent Holdings, which firmed 2 per cent and hit a 3-1/2-month high.

On the mainland, the blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.3 per cent, to 3,430.94 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 per cent, to 3,219.22 points.

China's state planner said it would act to boost the supply of high-quality steel to stabilise physical and futures prices, as part of its effort to contain speculation in the commodities markets.

A gauge of non-ferrous metal firms added 2.7 per cent and an index tracking coal miners gained 2.1 per cent.

REUTERS

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