Monday, 24 December 2012 13:41
HONG KONG: Hong Kong shares ended 0.16 percent higher in shortened pre-Christmas trade on Monday following big losses at the end of last week.
The benchmark Hang Seng Index added 34.89 points to close at 22,541.18 on turnover of HK$22.23 billion ($2.87 billion).
Despite the gains Alvin Cheung, associate director at Prudential Brokerage, said the gridlock in the United States on averting the "fiscal cliff" continues to weigh on sentiment.
The term refers to tax hikes and spending cuts which will come into effect next week unless the two parties can reach a deal, possibly tipping the US economy into recession.
However, Cheung said "window-dressing may push the market a little bit higher... before the year ends".
Window-dressing refers to dealers selling shares with large losses and buying well-performing ones to make their books look better.
Clothing retailer Esprit bounced back by 1.5 percent to HK$10.88 after losing 13.0 percent in the previous seven trading days on the back of a profit warning.
China's second-largest insurer Ping An closed down 0.2 percent at HK$63.10.
Chinese shares ended up 0.27 percent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index added 5.74 points to 2,159.05 on turnover of 68.0 billion yuan ($10.9 billion).
"The market has already formed an upward pattern and even though there is little new news from policymakers, stocks will likely keep moving higher," Zheshang Securities analyst Zhang Yanbing told Dow Jones Newswires.
China Merchants Bank jumped 3.03 percent to 12.26 yuan, China Everbright Bank rose 1.41 percent to 2.88 yuan and Industrial Bank climbed 1.38 percent to 15.45 yuan.
Drugmakers ended higher on hopes their products will enter a list of essential medicines that will be subsidised and purchased in bulk by the government.
Jiangsu Kanian Pharmaceutical gained 6.39 percent to 19.65 yuan while Wuhan Jianmin Pharmaceutical rose 5.13 percent to 14.77 yuan.
Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012