Hong Kong shares gain

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Hong Kong - Hong Kong shares gained on Thursday, led by property and financial stocks, as investors looked for bargains after heavy selling last week.

Investors shrugged off comments from the territory's financial services secretary that Hong Kong will report economic growth of just 1 percent for 2012, its slowest since 2009.

The Hang Seng Index ended up 0.9 percent at 23,413.25 points, rebounding from its sharpest weekly loss in three months last week. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong gained 1.5 percent. But turnover remained weak with many traders still away for the holiday.

Thursday was the first day of trade for Hong Kong this week after the long Lunar New Year holiday. Mainland Chinese markets are shut for the entire week and will resume trading on Feb. 18.

“It's just technical factors because everybody expects that the market opening higher would be good for the year,” said Ben Kwong, chief operating officer at securities house KGI Asia.

“We still have to see whether this rebound can be sustainable,” said Kwong, adding that some investors have already taken profits due to a lack of confidence after rotating into stocks that have underperformed the rally from lows late last year.

Chinese real estate stocks gained as worries over fresh property curbs eased.

China Overseas Land rose 2.5 percent, while China Resources Land climbed 3.3 percent.

“They were over-sold prior to the Chinese New Year holiday so today we see some bargain hunting in the leaders of the sector,” said Jackson Wong, Tanrich Securities equity vice-president for equity sales in Hong Kong.

Wong said the rebound should be moderate as housing policies remained uncertain before China's leadership transition in March.

Macau gambling stocks rose after the territory posted record visitor arrivals from mainland China this week. Sands China Ltd was up 2.2 percent, while Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd jumped 3 percent.

Financial stocks were boosted by better-than-expected China January loan data reported just before to the holiday.

Shares in Bank of Communications rose 2.3 percent, while Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world's biggest bank, gained 2.5 percent. - Reuters

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