Saturday, March 29, 2008

Hang Seng Index closes firmer fueled by blue-chips

Hong Kong stocks trimmed early losses and rallied further on Thursday, fueled by strong annual reports of blue-chips.

Hang Seng Index, the benchmark, opened slightly lower at 22,312.57 points in the morning session. After fluctuating between 22,205.20 and 22,758.94 points, the blue-chip Hang Seng Index edged up 47.21 points, or 0.21% to close at 22,664.22. Mainboard turnover was HK$79.95 billion (US$10.25 billion), compared with HK$100.6 billion (US$12.9 billion) on Wednesday.

Hang Seng China Enterprise Index, which tracks the overall performance of 43 Chinese mainland state-owned enterprises on Hong Kong Stock Exchange, ended slightly down 31.38 points or 0.26% to 11,828.84 points, the first fall in three days after the Easter Holiday following the tumble in the mainland stock markets.

Flagship companies controlled by Hong Kong business giant Li Ka-shing such as Cheung Kong (Holding) Ltd<1> and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd<13> were among the main driving force to the gains after the two companies reported rosy increases in their 2007 net income. Cheung Kong vaulted 1.6% to HK$110.1. Hutchison Whampoa surged 2.6% to HK$73.7.

Blue-chip firm Li & Fung<494> soared 4.43% to HK$31.85. Henderson Land Development Co<12> added 0.54% to HK$55.6. Sun Hung Kai Properties<16>, Hong Kong's largest property developer, registered a 2.6% increase to close at HK$118.9.

However, airline stocks all fell on concerns that surging fuel cost might raise their operating costs and erode the full-year earnings. Air China<601111><753>, the biggest international carrier on the mainland, slumped HK$0.49 or 7.04% to HK$6.47 after oil prices continued to soar in Asian trading. China Southern Airlines<600029><1055>, the nation's biggest airline, fell 4% to HK$5.73. China Eastern Airlines Corp<600115><670>, the nation's third-largest carrier, slid 4.44% to HK$3.87. Cathay Pacific<293>, Hong Kong's flag carrier, dipped 3.62 to HK$14.92.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China<601398><1398> gained 1.31% to HK$5.42 following Bangkok Bank said it might sell a19.3% stake to the largest lender in China.

Shares of China CITIC Bank Corp<601998><998> the country's seventh-largest lender, climbed 3.84% to HK$4.06 after the bank's second-half 2007 earnings beat analysts' expectations.

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