Hong Kong stocks at three-week high as Ping An, consumer companies advance

Hang Seng Index closes in on its 10-year high touched last month as progress made on the US tax overhaul boosts sentiment in global equities

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 December, 2017, 9:23am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 December, 2017, 10:54pm

Hong Kong stocks rose to a three-week high on Thursday, as Ping An Insurance Group and consumer companies advanced after Goldman Sachs raised its share-price estimate for a raft of firms in the industry.

The Hang Seng Index gained 0.5 per cent, or 132.97 points, to 29,367.06, the highest close since November 29. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, known as the H-shares gauge, added 0.8 per cent. The mainland’s benchmark reclaimed the 3,300-point level, bolstered by property developers.

Hong Kong’s equity benchmark is closing in on its decade-high of 30,003.49 touched last month, rebounding from a two-week decline, as the progress made on a tax bill in the US boosts sentiment in global equities. The Hang Seng Index has risen 33 per cent this year, and is set to become the best performer on an annual basis among the world’s major stock markets.

Ping An gained 2.8 per cent to HK$82.50 on Thursday and AIA Group rose 0.8 per cent to HK$63.10. Between them, the two insurers contributed almost half of the Hang Seng’s gains on Thursday.

Chinese consumer stocks including Want Want China Holdings extended recent gains after Goldman Sachs lifted price targets for a number of stocks earlier this week to reflect the strength of the Chinese yuan against the Hong Kong dollar.

Snack-food supplier Want Want advanced 1.3 per cent to HK$6.33, and its rival Tingyi Holding rose 1.5 per cent to HK$15.32.

WH Group, the Chinese firm that acquired American pork producer Smithfield Foods in 2013, rallied 1.5 per cent to 8.76 yuan for a fourth straight day of gains, on optimism that its US business will receive a boost after Congress approved the biggest revamp of the country’s tax code in more than 30 years.

Credit Suisse said WH would be the biggest beneficiary of the US tax reform among Hong Kong-listed firms, estimating the move will boost its profit by about 10 per cent as its US business contributed more than half of its group revenues.

Fosun International surged 8.6 per cent to HK$17.64, after the conglomerate bought an 18 per cent stake in Tsingtao Brewery from Asahi Group for HK$6.6 billion (US$843.7 million). Tsingtao Brewery slumped 6.4 per cent to HK$37.45. Its Shanghai-listed shares dropped 1.5 per cent to 36 yuan.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.4 per cent, or 12.45 points, to 3,300.06. Poly Real Estate Group and other developers led the gains as the country’s top leaders emphasised the need to develop the rental housing market in the closed-door, annual central economic work conference that concluded on Wednesday. The much-anticipated property tax was not mentioned at the meeting, where President Xi Jinping set “high quality” economic growth, prevention of financial risks and poverty reduction as top priorities for 2018.

“That has raised expectations that the policies on the property market will be loosened,” said Wang Zheng, chief investment officer at Jingxi Investment Management in Shanghai.

Poly Real Estate surged 7.8 per cent to 13.03 yuan, the highest close since June 2015. Future Land Holdings gained 5.5 per cent to 28.03 yuan, and China Vanke added 3.9 per cent to 29.72 yuan.