* HSI up 0.3 pct, CSI300 down 0.2 pct
By Yimou Lee
HONG KONG/SHANGHAI, Feb 20 Hong Kong shares rose
slightly on Wednesday, with retailers gaining ground after
strong results from cosmetics firm Sa Sa International Holdings
Gains for overseas stock markets on an improving global
economic outlook, in particular a stronger-than-expected rise in
German investor sentiment, also helped buoy the market.
The blue chip Hang Seng Index gained 0.3 percent to
23,201.92 by the midday break. The index has largely traded
between 23,100 and 23,400 after marking its highest level in
nearly two years in early February.
The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese
listings in Hong Kong rose 0.5 percent.
Shares in Sa Sa surged 5.5 percent to a record high after
the firm posted 30 percent year-on-year growth in its retail
sales in Hong Kong and Macau during the Feb. 10-16 Chinese New
Year and 20 percent growth in same store sales.
"The strong performance (from Sa Sa) suggested that consumer
sentiment was improving and that fuelled investors' interest to
put a bet on those which can benefit from the improved spending
sentiment of mainland tourists," Steve Chow, analyst at Sunwah
Kingsway Group Research.
Shares of Bonjour Holdings Ltd, a smaller rival of
Sa Sa, rose 3.1 percent to their highest level since Jan. 31.
China's largest footwear retailer Belle International
rose 1.7 percent.
Steven Leung, sales director at UOB Kay Hian in Hong Kong,
said investors were waiting for indications of Beijing's policy
direction and for signs of recovery in upcoming earning reports.
"People are still concerned about whether the recent
consolidation by the market has run its course or not," Leung
said, adding that Chinese banks and insurers could outperform as
they had underperformed other sectors.
The Hang Seng Financial Index has fallen 2.8 percent
so far in February, compared to a 2.2 percent loss in the
benchmark Hang Seng Index.
Mainland markets in Shanghai and Shenzhen softened for a
third straight day, but the decline was milder than Wednesday's,
when the markets lost nearly 2 percent. The CSI300 index
was down 0.2 percent at midday while the Shanghai
Composite Index was down 0.05 percent.
China's real estate sector remained weak amid concerns over
fresh policy curbs, but the falls were milder than in previous
sessions after Standard & Poor's revised the outlook on China's
residential property sector to stable from negative and said it
didn't expect Beijing to drastically tighten or loosen its
controls over the industry this year.
In Hong Kong, China Resources Land lost 0.7
percent, while China Overseas Land fell 1.4 percent.
China Vanke, China's largest property developer by
sales, rose 0.5 percent in Shenzhen.
Macau gambling stocks fell for the second consecutive day
after the city's gambling revenue for February fell short of
Sands China Ltd fell 1.1 percent, while Galaxy
Entertainment Group Ltd dove 2.3 percent. Melco Crown
Entertainment Ltd plunged 5.7 percent, its worst daily
loss since July 2012.