* HSI +0.5 pct, H-shares +1.0 pct
* CSI300 -0.2 pct, Shanghai Comp -0.1 pct
* Guoco Group surges on privatisation bid
* A-share vs H-share divergence continues
* C.Suisse bullish on Macau stocks, Sands China up
By Vikram Subhedar
HONG KONG, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares rose to a
16-month high on Wednesday, widening their outperformance over
wobbly mainland peers, as stepped-up merger activity and a
strong showing overnight on Wall Street encouraged investors to
extend a recent rally.
The Hang Seng Index ended the morning session up 0.5
percent at 22,441.7. The China Enteprises index rose
just over 1 percent.
In China, the CSI300 of top Shanghai and Shenzhen
listings fell 0.2 percent, retreating further from Monday's
one-month high. The Shanghai Composite eased 0.1
The Hang Seng index is up 21.7 percent on the year. The
Shanghai Composite is down 5.8 percent while the CSI300 is off
3.9 percent year-to-date.
Large-cap shares were the main drags on onshore markets on
Wednesday with Sinopec Corp down 0.5 percent and
China Vanke off 1.1 percent.
Utility company Huaneng Power extended its
recent slide falling another 1.5 percent and bringing its losses
this week to 3.8 percent on concerns over anticipated
electricity-tariff cuts in 2013.
While mainland markets remained sluggish, many Hong Kong
shares moved up, underpinned by foreign investors' optimism on
China. Making healthy gains on Wednesday were growth-sensitive
sectors, property companies and Macau casino stocks.
Guoco Group, a holding company which has
investments in financial services, property and leisure
businesses, saw shares surge 29.2 percent after its major
shareholder offered to take the company private.
"Privatisation is one theme worth keeping an eye on," said a
Hong Kong-based fund manager, adding that cash-rich majority
shareholders will seriously consider taking advantage of low
valuations and cheap money to take listed companies private.
In China, the manager added, "it's tough to get a clear
picture of what's happening on the ground but you can infer that
domestic investors remain relatively pessimistic."
Hong Kong asset prices are key beneficiaries of monetary
easing by global central banks to kickstart their economies.
With the flood of money coinciding with a steady improvement
in Chinese economic data, offshore investors for whom Hong Kong
remains the most popular gateway into China have aggressively
returned to rebuild positions.
The International Monetary Foundation sounded a note of
caution, however, warning that Hong Kong property prices could
drop abruptly, leading to wider economic consequences.
Sands China and Galaxy Entertainment
each rose 2.5 percent after brokerage Credit Suisse named the
two as among its favoured Macau picks.
Credit Suisse expects Macau gambling revenue in December to
grow as much as 31 percent from a year earlier.
Casino stocks are among the top performers in Hong Kong in
this year as investors have rewarded brisk earnings growth.
Sands China shares are up 52 percent year-to-date and poised for
a third straight year of gains.
Shares of consumer staples companies, which have seen heavy
interest this year as they offered relative safety, were weaker
as investors switched to more risky sectors.
Tingyi Holdings, which makes noodles and
beverages, fell 1.8 percent, bringing its losses this quarter to
6.6 percent. Personal hygiene products maker Hengan
International shed 1.2 percent.