Hong Kong share prices yesterday ended slightly firmer ahead of the Easter break, as a strong gain in China Telecom more than offset a slip in HSBC. The Hang Seng Index rose 27.56 points to 11,342.02, off a low of 11,167.05. Turnover was a slim $5.68 billion, compared with $6.12 billion on Wednesday. The market will be closed today and on Monday. Trading will resume on Tuesday. HSBC recovered most of its early losses, sparked by a spate of overseas sell orders, to end just $1 weaker at $239. Brokers said the financial giant was the target of profit-taking after its 5.04 per cent run-up in the wake of the tie-up between Citicorp and Travelers. There has been speculation that HSBC may itself be in line for a merger. 'There were a lot of sell orders from the US in the morning but [HSBC] regained in the afternoon,' said Gordon Crosbie-Walsh, vice-president at Salomon Bros. 'The UK fund managers decided to buy again. I think they see value there.' HSBC has its primary listing in London. Brokers said the market also received a lift in the afternoon session as Tokyo stocks put on 0.98 per cent ahead of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto's widely expected announcement of an economic stimulus. 'The main influence has been Japan,' one broker said. 'Japan moved up, so that helped sentiment.' The biggest blue-chip gainer was China Telecom, which rose 3.85 per cent to $16.15 ahead of its announcement on Tuesday of its earnings results for last year. The counter has fluctuated widely in its six months of trading. One broker speculated that the setting of a date for the results was enough a reason to tout the stock in a market offering little other news. Analysts said those hoping the results meeting would include a schedule for expected acquisitions of mainland mobile telephone operations might have to wait until April 23, when a six-month post-listing moratorium on asset injections expires. Stocks enjoying positive sentiment easily advanced. More than six H shares jumped more than 5 per cent with recently listed Yanzhou Coal leading the way as it gained 10.64 per cent to $2.60. Yanzhou has gained 7.43 per cent since it made its debut at $2.42 on April 1. Kunming Machine rose 9.09 per cent to 72 cents, and Anhui Expressway gained 7.4 per cent to $1.45. Also firmer were Jingwei Textile, Tsingtao Brewery and Guangshen Railway. The H-share index firmed 1.46 per cent to 695.07 points and the red-chip index rose 1.19 per cent to 1,625.14 points.