HK Shares End Up Led By Property Firms; Further Gains Likely

HONG KONG (Dow Jones)--Hong Kong shares ended higher for the sixth straight session Wednesday, led by local property firms, although declines in oil and commodity companies capped gains.

The blue-chip Hang Seng Index rose 89.34 points, or 0.38%, to 23,757.82 after trading between 23,579.74 and 23,773.98. Market volume totaled HK$78.08 billion, up from HK$76.39 billion Tuesday. The index gained 5% in the past six sessions.

Analysts said they expect the city's benchmark index to continue to rise this week, underpinned by abundant liquidity.

"Investors are looking for trading opportunities in the laggards, after the index's recent gains," said Alvin Cheung, an associate director at Prudential. He said he expects the index to trade between 23,400 and 23,800 in the near term.

Conita Hung, head of equity research at Delta Asia Financial, said she expects the index to hit 24,000 in the next two weeks as the decline in China's December PMI will help ease concerns about immediate monetary policy tightening.

"Though the market needs to take a breather after recent gains, we can expect the index to rise more in the near term on strong economic growth in China," she said.

Local developers led gains. The Hang Seng Property Sub-index rose 1.4% to 31,715.02 on a positive outlook for Hong Kong's property market.

Sun Hung Kai Properties surged 1.9% to HK$135.70, Cheung Kong rose 1.1% to HK$128.70 and Sino Land jumped 2.2% to HK$15.62.

Citigroup said it expects office rentals in the territory to grow a further 15%-20% in 2011, and the rising trend should continue in 2012 and beyond on very low level of new supply and continued recovery in the HK economy.

"We believe share prices of landlords have already priced in our estimated 2011 growth so further upside needs to be justified by a more bullish view on commercial properties post-2011," Citigroup analyst Ken Yeung said.

Heavyweight HSBC, which tracked gains in its London-listed shares, rose 2.4% to HK$82.25.

Bucking the upward trend, oil and commodities companies declined due to weaker commodity prices.

PetroChina shed 0.6% to HK$10.24, Cnooc fell 1.5% to HK$18.54, Zijin Mining dropped 1.1% to HK$7.17.

Benchmark light, sweet crude oil traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell US$2.17 to US$89.38 a barrel Tuesday, its lowest settlement since Dec. 20, and spot gold fell more than US$30 to below US$1,400 per troy ounce Tuesday. Both were hit by profit-taking after their prices surged late last year.

Gold closed at US$1,383.50-US$1,384.50 an ounce in Hong Kong on Wednesday, tumbling from Tuesday's close of US$1,414.00-US$1,415.00.

At 0912 GMT, February Nymex crude oil was down US$0.71 at US$88.67 per barrel in the Globex session.

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