* HSI +0.1 pct, H-shares -0.4 pct, CSI300 +0.3 pct
* China autos lifted by strong January sales data
* China shippers boosted by positive January trade data
* Chalco hit by BofA-ML downgrade
By Clement Tan
Feb 8 China shares rose in choppy Friday trade
ahead of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, buoying slim Hong
Kong gains, lifted by strength in the auto sector after strong
Shippers were boosted by China's better-than-expected
January trade. That, along with a surprisingly firm official
yuan midpoint, suggests inflation data due later in the day,
could come in higher than expected.
The CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen
A-share listings went into the midday break up 0.3 percent, the
Shanghai Composite Index also rose 0.3 percent after
posting its first loss in nine sessions on Thursday.
The Hang Seng Index was up 0.1 percent, but the China
Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong
Kong was down 0.4 percent. Turnover in Hong Kong stayed weak,
while Shanghai midday volume was the lowest in two weeks.
On the week, the Hang Seng Index is down more than 2
percent, while the China Enterprises Index is down almost 5
percent. The Shanghai Composite is up 0.3 percent, and the
CSI300 up 0.9 percent.
Chinese markets are closed next week for the Lunar New Year
holiday, while Hong Kong will resume trading on Thursday.
Beijing is expected to post money supply and loan growth data
anytime next week.
"Some investors seem to be positioning for strong data
during the holiday week, but there's also some bargain hunting
in the Chinese property sector which suffered steep losses
earlier this week," said Jackson Wong, Tanrich Securities equity
vice-president for equity sales in Hong Kong.
China Overseas Land rose 0.9 percent from
Thursday's three-month closing low in Hong Kong. China Resources
Land climbed 1.2 percent, but it is still set for its
worst week in 11 months, down 7 percent.
SAIC Motor jumped 6.1 percent in Shanghai after
data showed China's vehicle sales in January jumped 46.4 percent
from a year earlier, the strongest pace of growth in almost
three years largely due to a low base effect from last year.
Gains on Friday elevated SAIC shares to their highest since
July 2011, while rival Changan Auto soared 7.7
percent in Shenzhen to a record high. Great Wall Motor
climbed 1.7 percent in Hong Kong and 5.2
percent in Shanghai.
Chinese shippers rose after China's January exports data
trumped expectations. In Hong Kong, China Shipping Development
climbed 2.2 percent, while China Cosco
climbed 3.4 percent.
CHALCO, CHINA BANKS WEAK
But shares of Aluminum Corporation of China (Chalco)
in Hong Kong sank another 1.1 percent, hit on Friday
by a downgrade by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch analysts from
"neutral" to "underweight."
Chalco had slid 2.8 percent on Thursday after the index
manager said late on Wednesday that it would be replaced by
Lenovo Group as a Hang Seng Index component from March
China Minsheng Bank shares slid 2.4
percent in Hong Kong and 3.4 percent in Shanghai after the
mid-sized lender received regulatory approval to issue 20
billion yuan ($3.21 billion) in six-year convertible bonds.
Minsheng shares in Shanghai are now down 5.3 percent this
week, its worst weekly showing since November 2010. Its Hong
Kong listing is now down 8.7 percent this week after coming off
Monday's record closing high.