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HK stocks higher as concerns ease relatively
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Hong Kong stocks were higher Friday on overnight gains in the United States markets as a bond insurer's positive outlook helped ease concerns over the U.S. bond market, which was part of the sub-prime mortgage fallout.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index moved up 336.18 points, or 1.43 percent, to open at 23,791.92 and turned to move downward into the negative ground before rebounding to close at 24,123.58, up 667.84 points, or 2.85 percent from the previous closing.

The market's key barometer fluctuated between 24,238.30 and 23, 322.05, showing a session as volatile as most of the recent days. Turnover totaled 119.45 billion HK dollars (15.31 billion U.S. dollars), up from Thursday's 110.65 billion HK dollars (14.19 billion U.S. dollars).

The Hong Kong market had found support from narrowing losses recorded by bourses in the Chinese mainland, analysts said, adding that the Hang Seng Index was likely to remain volatile between 21, 700 and 25,500 in the short term.

Some of the analysts said market sentiments were changing for the better with strong outlook in the medium to long term, with good performance expected in property and coal stocks.

Finance stocks led the market rally Friday, with the finance sub-index going up 1,288.12 points, or 3.98 percent, at 33,615.20, gaining the most among the four major categories, namely, finance, utilities, properties, and commerce and industry.

Heavyweight banking player HSBC Holdings went up 2.6 HK dollars, or 2.25 percent, to close at 118.2 HK dollars, while its local unit Hang Seng Bank went down 5.2 HK dollars, or 3.39 percent, at 148 HK dollars.

ICBC, one of the mainland's major commercial banks, shot up 0. 45 HK dollars, or 9.72 percent, to close at 5.08 HK dollars thanks to a 60-percent year-on-year growth in its net profit, while China Construction Bank added 0.46 HK dollars, or 8.53 percent, to close the session at 5.85 HK dollars.

Bank of China went up 0.09 HK dollars, or 2.84 percent, at 3.26 HK dollars, while its local unit BOC Hong Kong edged up 0.2 HK dollars at 19.46 HK dollars.

China Life, the mainland-based insurance giant, added 1.5 HK dollars, or 5.36 percent, at 29.5 HK dollars, while Ping An added 1.6 HK dollars, 2.95 percent, to close at 55.8 HK dollars, despite reported claims amid snow storms in China.

Coal mining industry conglomerate China Shenhua added 1 HK dollar, or 2.5 percent, to close at 41 HK dollars while analysts said the current snow storm may hurt the local coal sector in the short run but demand should remain strong soon after.

China Mobile, the mainland's giant mobile carrier, gained 3.3 HK dollars, or 2.89 percent, to close at 117.6 HK dollars while competitor China Unicom went up 1.02 HK dollars, or 5.67 percent, at 19 HK dollars.

The commerce and industry sub-index gained 472.99 points, or 3. 39 percent, at 14,408.18, followed by the utilities genre added 1.5 percent at 42,575.08.

The properties sub-index turned out the only loser among the four major categories, losing 792.81 points, or 2.36 percent, at 32,825.26, partly due to profit taking on the market after a rebound on the heels of local rate cuts.

Henderson Land, based in Hong Kong, China's southern special administrative region, lost 2.2 HK dollars, or 3.3 percent, at 64. 5 HK dollars, while Cheung Kong lost 2.3 HK dollars at 123.4 HK dollars and SHK Properties moved down 5 HK dollars, or 3.28 percent, at 147.5 HK dollars.

(Xinhua News Agency February 2, 2008)

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