SHANGHAI: China stocks gained on Thursday, bucking the trend in Asia, as investors snapped up battered property shares on bets that Beijing will relax policies to prevent a sector-wide collapse. Hong Kong shares dipped slightly.
** China's blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.9% in morning trading, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.6%. Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng index edged 0.2% lower.
** In contrast, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 0.7% after data showed US consumer prices surged at the fastest pace since 1990 last month.
** Sentiment in China and Hong Kong was bolstered by sharp rebounds in property shares amid a slew of positive signals that fan hopes for policy easing.
** The CSI300 Real Estate index surged nearly 8%, while an index tracking Hong Kong-listed mainland developers jumped more than 3%.
** A think-tank of China's state council met a local property association and financial institutions in Guangzhou, Chinese media reported on Thursday, days after the agency held a similar meeting with developers and banks in Shenzhen.
** On Wednesday, the Securities Times reported some real estate companies disclosed plans to issue debt in the inter-bank market at a meeting with market regulators.
** Data showing a rise in new mortgage loans in October and news that China Evergrande Group bondholders received coupon payments from the indebted developer also aided sentiment.
** "China needs to relax property curbs, because the industry is so important to economic growth," said Liam Zhou, founder of Shanghai-based hedge fund house Minority Asset Management.
** Bank stocks also rose in China and Hong Kong on receding fears that further defaults by developers would erode banks' balance sheets.
** Chinese brokerages shares also rose sharply on Thursday, as investors bet they will benefit from the imminent launch of the Beijing Stock Exchange.