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Property and banks boost HK barometer

HONG Kong stocks rose 1.8 percent in a third straight winning session yesterday, as investors continued to pile into property and banks on signs the United States and Chinese mainland will keep to their easy monetary policies for some time.

Some of the buying was also triggered by short covering ahead of the expiration of index futures on Monday, brokers said.

"After cautious comments from the World Bank and other agencies this week, investors may have even less confidence in a recovery in developed economies. Chinese mainland and Hong Kong are still the places to invest in," said Philip Chan, head of research with CAF Securities.

Mainland bank stocks built on previous gains after the China Securities Journal reported that new lending could reach 1.2 trillion yuan (US$175.6 billion) in June, pushing the first-half total past 7 trillion yuan. The Bank of Communications gained 3.8 percent to HK$8.42 (US$1.09) in Hong Kong.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index climbed 325.23 points to 18,600.26, gaining 3.8 percent on the week

The gauge, which has risen more than 29 percent since the beginning of the year, is trading at 16.7 times the estimated earnings of its blue-chip constituents in 2009.

"It's still true that the pick-up in economic activity is lagging the rally in the stock market, so instead of the W-shaped recovery that many expect to see, we might see an L-shape. The market may flatten out after a big correction in the second half," said Peter Lai, director with DBS Vickers.

Turnover rose to HK$62.5 billion from Thursday's HK$60.2 billion.

The China Enterprises Index, which represents top locally listed Chinese mainland stocks, rose 2.5 percent to 11,037.14.

China Shenhua, the world's largest coal miner surged 6.5 percent to an 11-month closing high of HK$27.95 after Goldman Sachs raised its rating on the stock to "buy" from "neutral" as demand for the commodity showed signs of picking up, while supply from small mines remained tight. The brokerage set a target price of HK$35 on the stock.

Smaller rival Yanzhou Coal advanced 4.5 percent to HK$10.64. Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to "buy" from "neutral" with a target price of HK$13.20.


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