* HSI +0.8 pct, H-shares +1.6 pct, CSI300 +0.7 pct
* China data slightly tops consensus, but volumes subdued
* Growth-sensitive stocks lead gains
* China railway slips in HK after disappointing 2013 budget
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares climbed to a
new 19-1/2-month high on Friday, while the onshore Chinese
market is set for its first gain in three days after data showed
China snapped seven-straight quarters of declining economic
But volumes were relatively subdued, suggesting investors
were looking beyond data that showed the world's second-largest
economy growing 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter and 7.8
percent in 2012 from a year earlier.
The Hang Seng Index rose 0.8 percent to 23,514.1 at
midday, its highest intra-day level since June 1, 2011. The
China Enterprises index of the top Chinese listings in
Hong Kong spiked 1.6 percent.
In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index rose
0.6 percent, while the CSI300 of the top Shanghai and
Shenzhen A-share listings gained 0.7 percent.
"I think today's numbers were broadly in line with what
people expected. Sure, it's a trigger for strength in cyclical
sectors, but it won't be anything too dramatic," said Wang
Aochao, UOB-Kay Hian's Shanghai-based head of China research.
"We have had a pretty dramatic rally over the last few weeks
and most are now waiting to see how this economic recovery will
translate into earnings recovery," Wang added.
With the next set of economic data not due until March,
investors are likely to turn their attention to corporate
earnings. Some Chinese companies have begun posting fourth
quarter earnings, but the pace of reporting will only pick up
after the Chinese New Year next month.
On Friday, the growth-sensitive Chinese banking sector was
among the top boosts to benchmark indices. Industrial and
Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) rose 1.4
percent in Hong Kong and 1 percent in Shanghai.
ICBC shares in Hong Kong have now surged more than 45
percent from a Sept. 5 low and are now hovering at levels not
seen since August 2011. This compares to the 23 percent jump for
the Hang Seng Index from the same September day.
Chinese railway stocks counters bucked the broader market to
ease after local media reported the railway ministry is
earmarking 650 billion yuan for railway development in 2013, up
3 percent on 2012.
Analysts at Bank of America-Merril Lynch, Citi and Deutsche
Bank said the budget increase was disappointing.
In Hong Kong, China Railway Construction slid 1.8
percent, while China Railway Group shed 1.5 percent.
Both have outperformed in 2012, surging 106 and 86 percent
CHINA CONSUMER SECTOR STRONG
On top of quarterly and annual GDP figures, data ranging
from monthly industrial output to fixed asset investment and
retail sales were released on Friday.
China-focused consumer stocks were mostly stronger after the
country's statistics bureau said consumption was the largest
overall contributor to economic growth last year. The agency
also said price levels were largely stable.
China's largest footwear retailer Belle International
bounced 2.5 percent, while embattled sports brand Li
Ning jumped 4.9 percent, both in Hong Kong.
Shares of Gree Electric Appliances Inc jumped
5.4 percent in Shenzhen after China's largest appliance maker by
sales said on Thursday its net profit rose around 41 percent in
2012 on the back of higher sales.
Baoxin Auto surged 8.6 percent after Goldman Sachs
added the China auto maker to its conviction list, citing its
highest luxury car sales volume mix, its strong control of
expenses and earnings boost from its acquisition of NCGA.