China shares headed for best day in two weeks, lifting Hong Kong

Last Updated: Wed, Mar 20, 2013 05:40 hrs

* HSI +0.9 pct, H-shares +1.9 pct, CSI300 +2.7 pct

* Short selling interest in HK exceed 13 pct of turnover

* China property up again after more clarity on curbs

* Country Garden jumps after strong 2013 sales guidance

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, March 20 (Reuters) - China shares were headed for their best daily showing in two weeks on Wednesday, led by gains for real estate stocks as more clarity about fresh property curbs eased investor uncertainty and helped buoy the Hong Kong market.

The CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings went into the midday trading break up 2.7 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 2.1 percent. If the gains hold to the close, it would mark their best rise since March 5.

The Hang Seng Index rose 0.9 percent, while the China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong was up 1.9 percent. If gains hold, this will the first gain in three days for both indexes.

China Vanke jumped 3.7 percent in Shenzhen as the cloud over policy prescription against speculation on the Chinese property sector cleared further.

A report in the 21st Century Business Herald detailing Beijing city's plan to adapt more curbs first announced by the central government earlier this month eased uncertainty for investors as it provided more clarity about the specific measures.

The report said the curbs may include a differential capital gains tax rate based on the length of time of property ownership and closing a loophole that help divorcing couples evade the tax on second homes. Single residents may also be restricted to one home, the newspaper added.

Chinese property developer Country Garden jumped almost 7 percent in Hong Kong after the company said it has already achieved 20 percent of its 2013 sales target, which is 30 percent higher than its 2012's. Chinese brokerage CICC upgraded its rating from "hold" to "accumulate" and raised target price by 7 percent.

Traders said midday gains in China came amid exceptionally high short selling interest, which accounted for 13.6 percent of total turnover at midday - above the 8 percent historical average.

"This rebound could go on for the rest of the week, but let's not get too excited because nothing fundamentally has changed yet," said Hong Hao, chief equity strategist for Bank of Communication International Securities.

"Tomorrow's flash PMI should come in better than February's number and could improve sentiment if it points to a better recovery pace," Hong added, referring to a private preliminary survey of manufacturing activity in March in China due for release on Thursday.

Mid-sized Chinese banks were among the biggest contributors to the benchmark's uptick after a separate report in the 21st Century Business Herald said the China Banking Regulatory Commission is considering scrapping a deposit target for banks that could free up more capital.

China Minsheng Bank jumped 5 percent in Shanghai to its highest in more than a month.

Its Hong Kong shares spiked 5.7 percent, extending gains on the year to 19.4 percent, compared to the 1.9 percent slide on the China Enterprises Index. But short selling in the stock accounted for 18.5 percent of its total turnover at midday.

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