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Financial shares lift HK market

FINANCIAL stocks rose in Hong Kong, lifting the broader market yesterday, on news that new lending on the Chinese mainland picked up pace in June.

In other positive news, the mainland last Friday said state-owned companies that were listed since 2006 and those that would do so in future must give a 10 percent stake for free to the national pension fund.

Stakes in major state companies, including Hong Kong-listed China Construction Bank, China Life Insurance Co and Ping An Insurance, will be held by the pension fund for at least three years.

The move was seen as part of the mainland's share market reform plan and was expected to lend stability to the market as pension funds were likely to be long-term investors, said analysts.

"What this says is that the Chinese mainland will continue to do its bit towards supporting the market and stimulating the economy, which in turn will benefit their banks and insurers," said Sun Hung Kai Financial strategist Castor Pang.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index added 0.8 percent to end at 18,059.55, off early highs, as caution prevailed ahead of the United States Federal Reserve meeting on interest rates later in the week.

Two initial public offerings in Hong Kong - a scrap-metal recycler and a furniture maker - drew strong interest on their debuts yesterday in a market seeking fresh catalysts.

"It's the right time with all the hot money flooding the market and investors ready to chase pretty much anything. Some of these stocks are good concept stocks, while others have timed their issue well," said BOCI Research Vice President Peter Pak.

Turnover slipped to HK$62.7 billion (US$8.1 billion) from HK$62.9 billion last Friday.

The Shanghai Securities News cited unnamed bank officials as saying new lending in China in January to June may hit 6.5 trillion yuan (US$951.1 billion), as loan growth sped up in June on new infrastructure projects.

Top lender ICBC rose 3.3 percent, and the Bank of Communications gained 4.8 percent to HK$7.80.

New listing China Metal Recycling hit a high of HK$6.71, from its IPO price of HK$5.18, then trimmed the gains to HK$6.32 at the close, rising 22 percent. The other debutante, furniture maker Hing Lee (Hong Kong) vaulted 39 percent to close at HK$1.42, against an IPO price of HK$1.02.


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