Port Operators, Shippers Lead Up China, Hong Kong Shares as Global Trade View Brightens

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March 29, 2017

FILE PHOTO – A Maersk containership seen at the Yangshan Deep Water Port, part of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, in Shanghai, China September 24, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song

ReutersSHANGHAI, March 29 (Reuters) – China and Hong Kong stocks rose on Wednesday as further signs of a pick-up in global trade boosted shares of port operators and shipping companies, offseting concerns about fresh property market cooling measures.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.3 percent to 3,479.14 points by the lunch break, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.1 percent to 3,257.66.

Port operators Rizhao Port and Nanjing Port surged 9 and 10 percent, respectively, after the Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index – a closely watched barometer of global trade – climbed to the highest in over two years.

“The Baltic index, as well as recent U.S. economic data, all point to improving global trade conditions,” said Wu Kan, Shanghai-based head of equity trading at investment firm Shanshan Finance.

Wu said the surge in port operators was an extension of the recent fervour for “One Belt, One Road” concept stocks. The infrastructure initiative envisions building a network of land, sea and air routes that will open new trade links from China to the rest of Asia and Europe.

Gains also reflected expectations that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s meeting with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump next month would help reduce the chance of a Sino-U.S. trade war, Wu added.

But concerns about liquidity and tighter policy measures kept China markets in check.

On Wednesday, China’s central bank skipped open market operations for the fourth straight day, saying liquidity levels remained “appropriate”. Its inaction resulted in a fourth consecutive session of net drains ahead of month- and quarter-end, when conditions typically tighten.

Property developers continued to struggle as local governments stepped up cooling measures to curb high prices.

Moody’s Investors Service warned on Wednesday that China’s economy would face heightened risks from a potential future property downturn, with authorities’ scope for mitigating such an impact limited.

But banking stocks were up slightly after major lenders Bank of Communications (BoCom) , and Agricultural Bank of China (AgBank) reported modest annual profit growth.


In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index edged up 0.2 percent to 24,396.26, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index gained 0.5 percent to 10,477.40.

Most sectors were up. An index tracking transport shares rose 0.6 percent.

Index heavyweight Tencent rose nearly 1 percent, after touching record intraday highs, after the Chinese Internet giant bought a 5 percent stake in U.S. electric car maker Tesla Inc.

(Samuel Shen and John Ruwitch; Editing by Kim Coghill)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017.

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