REFILE-China shares gain ahead of Lunar New Year, Hong Kong has down week

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 08, 2013 10:00 hrs

* HSI +0.2 pct on Friday, -2.1 pct this week

* CSI300 +0.4 pct on Friday, +1 pct for the week

* HSI suffers worst weekly loss since November

* China autos lifted by strong January sales

* China shippers aided by positive January trade data

By Clement Tan

Feb 8 (Reuters) - China shares rebounded to near multi-month highs, which helped Hong Kong have a slim gain on Friday but couldn't stop it from having its worst week since November before the Lunar New Year break.

Lifting China were auto stocks, thanks to strong January sales, and shippers as the country's exports and imports surged while inflation abated last month.

The first hard Chinese data of the year, released on Friday, pointed to a rebound in external and domestic demand not solely explained by a distorted comparison with January 2012, which included Lunar New Year.

The CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings rose 0.4 percent on Friday and 1 percent this week, nearing Wednesday's highest close since September 2011. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.6 percent on the week, helped by a 0.6 percent rise on Friday.

The Hang Seng Index was up 0.2 percent for the day, but finished the week down 2.1 percent. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong, which slipped 0.3 percent on Friday, slumped 4.6 percent for the full week.

This week's outperformance of onshore markets over offshore peers lifted the Hang Seng China A-H Price Index to its highest since October, extending the premium that A-shares have over H-shares that returned a week ago, following a month-long hiatus.

Shanghai volumes stayed weak, while Hong Kong turnover was the second-lowest this year ahead of Lunar New Year. Markets in Hong Kong will resume trade on Feb. 14, while onshore Chinese markets reopen Feb. 18.

The season for corporate earnings reports will peak in March, the month when China's annual parliamentary meetings are scheduled.

"There will be a lot of jitters up to March because people are wondering if there will be a repeat of last year's rally stalling around the same time," said Tan Eng Teck, a Singapore-based fund manager with Treasury Asia Asset Management, which manages $1.5 billion in Asia ex-Japan.

In Shanghai, SAIC Motor jumped 7.4 percent to their highest since July 2011 after data showed China's vehicle sales in January jumped 46.4 percent from a year earlier. The strongest growth in almost three years was largely due to the low-base effect.

Rival Changan Auto soared 9.9 percent in Shenzhen to a record high. Great Wall Motor climbed 6.4 percent in Hong Kong and 5.8 percent in Shanghai.

Chinese shippers rose after China's January export data topped expectations. In Hong Kong, China Shipping Development climbed 3.2 percent while China Cosco rose 5.4 percent.

China Minsheng Bank shares slid 2.6 percent in Hong Kong and 4.4 percent in Shanghai after the mid-sized lender received regulatory approval to issue 20 billion yuan ($3.21 billion) in six-year convertible bonds.

For the week, Minsheng shares in Shanghai fell 6.3 percent, their worst weekly result since November 2010. The Hong Kong listing tumbled 8.8 percent for the full week in spite of rising 2.7 percent on Monday to a record high closing.

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