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=ASIA MARKETS: Hong Kong Shares Rise As China Growth Worries Ebb

HONG KONG (Apr 15) -- Hong Kong shares headed for a second day higher on Monday, as concerns of a slowdown in China eased after better-than-expected data, and hopes of a Sino-American trade deal grew.

The Hang Seng Index had risen 0.6% to 30,084.73 by noon. Pan-Asia insurer AIA Group climbed 1.5%, contributing most to the gauge’s gains by points. China Construction Bank and Ping An Insurance Group rose 1% and 1.9%, respectively, and were also among major contributors to Monday’s advance.

China Resources Land advanced 1.5% following a 48.5% jump in gross contracted sales for March. China Shenhua Energy edged 0.2% higher after reporting a 1% increase in March coal sales volume.

The three major U.S. equity indexes climbed on Friday after better-than-expected Chinese exports and loans data for March lifted investor sentiment. Meanwhile, optimism over Sino-American trade talks grew after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday said he hoped the negotiations were approaching a final round. Separately, Reuters reported Monday, citing two sources, that U.S. negotiators had tempered demands for China to curb industrial subsidies as a condition for a trade deal.

Besides U.S.-China trade deal hopes, there are expectations that China’s first-quarter gross domestic product numbers will not be “too bad,” said Jason Lee, vice president for stocks at Hong Kong consultancy Investment Strategy Institute.

China’s March quarter GDP numbers are due on Wednesday.

“The Easter holiday effect will make the market relatively calm later this week,” he added. Hong Kong’s financial markets are closed on Friday for Good Friday and April 22 for Easter Monday.

In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.1%. The yuan traded onshore slipped 0.1% against the dollar to 6.7084. Most other equity markets in the rest of the region also advanced, with the Nikkei Asia300 Index rising 0.5%. The FTSE Bursa Malaysia climbed 0.2%, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index lost 0.1%.

Property developer Greenland Hong Kong Holdings climbed 3.8% after saying contracted sales for the January-to-March period nearly tripled from a year ago.

ANTA Sports Products rose 2.9%. The company on Friday said first-quarter retail sales for ANTA branded products rose in the low teens from a year ago.

Chinese miner MMG jumped 6.6% after saying supplies were restored and concentrate transport recommenced at its Las Bambas mine in Peru after months of blockade of a highway.

Electronics products maker AVIC International Holdings fell 3.6% after rising as much as 5.4% earlier. The company on Monday said it will sell its 22.35% equity interest in associated company AVIC Sunda Holding to China Merchants Shekou Industrial Zone Holdings.

GF Securities advanced 3.8% after saying it expects to report a 70% to 95% increase in first-quarter net profit.

China Environmental Technology Holdings slumped 9.7% after saying it expects net loss for the year ended Dec. 31 to have widened from a year ago.

Petronas Chemicals Group edged 0.3% higher in Kuala Lumpur after declining 1.3% on Friday. The company on Monday said it was not affected by a fire and explosion incident last week at the Pengerang Integrated Complex in Johor.

- By Amy Lam;; +852 3960 5150
- Edited By Suzannah Benjamin
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