Expectations that Government land sales would resume helped pushed Hong Kong shares up 3.04 per cent yesterday, but only scarcely improved volumes. Led by banks and developers, the Hang Seng Index advanced 278.62 points to 9,425.42. Turnover stayed weak at $3.11 billion. After the market closed, the Government confirmed it would resume land sales with an auction and tender programme from April 1, ending a seven-month suspension. 'News about the resumption of land sales was taken as positive news,' said Dharmala Securities research head Ben Kwong Man-bun. 'The rise squeezed shorts, and their covering pushed up the index even more.' The February index futures contract closed up 345 points at 9,475, a 50-point premium to the cash market. Thursday's rise on Wall Street also boosted market sentiment. The Government suspended land sales in June after several properties were withdrawn due to lack of supportable bids by developers. Critics claimed the move was also aimed at boosting developers by putting a crunch on future supply. 'It's good news. If we are to find a floor to the residential market then you need open market information, you need to know where developers stand on the property market and a sense of their willingness to pay for land,' according to Adam Osborn, property analyst at Clarion Securities. The news is particularly good for some of the medium-sized developers which do not have land banks, which the four leading developers do. Cheung Kong, for instance, has built up farmland holdings during the past few years and has recently added to its land bank through joint-venture private sales at such sites as the Tiger Balm gardens on Tai Hang Road in Causeway Bay. Analysts pointed to the Hang Lung group as a prime beneficiary. Hang Lung is in a net cash position but has no huge developments on the drawing board. Mr Osborn said the resumption of sales was healthy for the wider economy. 'If Hong Kong continued to limit supply it would mean we've learned nothing of the lessons of past few years. 'One of the reasons for the run-up in property prices was the short supply and now we're talking about getting back to normal levels. 'Hong Kong will only damage itself if they have continued these wild swings and roundabouts.' He added that the prices developers were willing to pay for land sites will also offer banks a gauge of their confidence in the economy. HSBC rose 3.22 per cent to $192 and Hang Seng Bank 4.2 per cent to $62. Mainland-related shares rode the market up as well, with red chips rising 3.7 per cent to 708.26 points and H shares gained 2.58 per cent to 310.89 points. The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong will trade in the morning session on Monday before closing through to Thursday for the Lunar New Year holiday. Trading resumes as usual on Friday.