Hong Kong shares end up slightly

Hong Kong shares ended 0.10 per cent higher on Friday, after a widely expected European Central Bank interest rate cut and a positive US jobless claims report.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index added 21.66 points to end at 22,689.96 on turnover of HK$56.23 billion.

On Thursday ECB policymakers trimmed a quarter point off the key “refi” refinancing rate, to a record low of 0.50 per cent.

The widely expected ECB move is part of efforts to increase demand and encourage growth in the debt-stricken eurozone.

Markets also responded positively to a better-than-expected US Labor Department report showing new claims for unemployment benefits had fallen to a five-year low.

The claims -- an indicator of the pace of layoffs – fell by 18,000 to 324,000, the lowest level since mid-January 2008.

New World Development jumped 3.3 per cent, leading blue-chip gains. It was aided by its plan to diverge three of its Hong Kong hotels for a separate listing.

Lenovo underperformed for a second straight day, falling 1.0 per cent to HK$6.83. It slumped 2.7 per cent on Thursday following news that talks to buy part of IBM’s server business had broken down due to differences over the price.

Chinese shares ended up 1.44 per cent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 31.38 points to 2,205.50 on turnover of 78.3 billion yuan (HK$97.83 billion).

The rise was led by gains in brokerages, as investors hunted for bargains following losses in previous sessions, dealers said.

China Everbright Securities gained 5.12 per cent to 14.37 yuan while China Merchants Securities advanced 4.21 per cent to 12.63 yuan.

Metals shares rebounded on bargain-hunting, with aluminium producer Chalco rising 1.80 per cent to 3.96 yuan while Xiamen Tungsten added 1.66 per cent to 29.99 yuan.

Property developers extended gains after a survey showed Thursday that home prices picked up in April in their fifth consecutive monthly rise.

Poly Real Estate rose 1.43 per cent to 12.04 yuan while Gemdale climbed 1.11 per cent to 7.27 yuan.