March 12, 2019 / 8:36 AM / 3 months ago

Hong Kong shares end higher buoyed by fresh trade talk progress

* HSI gains 1.5 pct, HSCE rises 1.7 pct

* China, U.S. officials talk key trade issues

* Global markets up on brighter Brexit outlook

HONG KONG, March 12 (Reuters) - The Hong Kong stock market closed higher on Tuesday, supported by sentiments in global markets and as Beijing and Washington appeared to progress towards a trade deal. ** At the close of trade, the Hang Seng index was up 1.5 percent at 28,920.87 points, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises index rose 1.7 percent. ** The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares gained 1.3 percent, while the IT sector rose 0.5 percent, the financial sector ended 1.5 percent higher and property stocks climbed 1.6 percent. ** Chinese Vice Premier Liu He held a telephone call with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on key issues in their trade talks on Tuesday, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported in early trade. ** The phone call came one day after White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said China and the United States have not confirmed a date for a summit between presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, at which the leaders are expected to finalise a pact that would end a months-long trade war. ** Sentiments in global markets were buoyant, as the pound rallied after the European Commission agreed to changes in a Brexit deal before a vote in the British parliament on a divorce agreement that has unnerved financial markets over recent months. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 1 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 1.8 percent. ** In China, sources told Reuters that the People’s Bank of China was studying the potential impact of interest rate overhaul to loan pricing, just as speculation grows over whether the central bank will cut interest rates soon to support the slowing economy. ** The top gainer on the Hang Seng was WH Group Ltd, which gained 6.5 percent, while the biggest loser was China Mengniu Dairy Co Ltd, which fell 1 percent. ** The top gainers among H-shares were Dongfeng Motor Group Co Ltd, up 5.1 percent, Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd , up by 3.7 percent, and China Resources Land Ltd , gaining 3.8 percent. ** About 1.92 billion Hang Seng index shares were traded. The volume traded in the previous trading session was 1.57 billion. ** At close, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 22.04 percent over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares.

Reporting by Noah Sin; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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