* HSI +0.6 pct, H-shares +1 pct, CSI300 +0.2 pct
* China export data beats consensus, beta plays soar
* New World jumps ahead of HK housing secretary address
* China airlines lifted by Citi upgrade
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares posted their
best day in a week on Thursday, with Aluminum Corporation of
China leading gains among growth-sensitive counters after data
showing a far stronger than expected trade performance by China
Markets in the mainland also rose, but A-share gains were
more cautious ahead of more data on Friday that is expected to
show inflation hit a 7-month high of 2.3 percent in December.
While there have been widespread calls for the People's Bank of
China to loosen monetary conditions the central bank has shied
away from forceful policy easing due to concern over any spike
The Hang Seng Index ended up 0.6 percent at 23,354.3,
its best day since Jan. 2, though after running into resistance
it failed to close above a 19-month high set last Thursday.
The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese
listings in Hong Kong finished up 1 percent, outshining the 0.2
percent rise on the CSI300 of the top Shanghai and
Shenzhen A-shares and the 0.4 percent gain on the Shanghai
"The China trade data was an obvious trigger for gains
today, which are still driven by fresh buying," said Jackson
Wong, Tanrich Securities' vice-president for equity sales.
China's export growth rebounded sharply in December to notch
a seven-month high, but the spike may not herald an enduring
recovery for an economy that had slowed for seven quarters as
global demand remains subdued.
The murky trade outlook contrasts with data that showed
resilient local loan demand, which supported hopes that the
world's second-largest economy rebounded towards 8 percent in
the final quarter of 2012 on firming domestic demand and as the
nation undertook a once-in-a-decade leadership change.
Still, growth-sensitive sectors saw the bigger percentage
gains in Hong Kong, with Aluminum Corporation of China (Chalco)
soaring 6.5 percent to a 10-month high in more than
four times its 30-day average volume.
In Shanghai, shares of Baoshan Iron & Steel (Baosteel)
rose 1.2 percent after China's largest listed steel
maker posted a 40 percent rise in 2012 net profit to 10.3
Chinese shippers were also buoyed by the export data. China
Cosco Holdings jumped 7.3 percent to its
highest close in nine months in Hong Kong and 2.5 percent in its
best day in a month in Shanghai.
CITI UPGRADE BUOYS CHINA AIRLINE GAINS
Chinese airlines were also buoyed by a Citi upgrade of the
sector's Hong Kong listings, based on an expected improvement in
earnings as domestic air traffic continued to recover in
December, and some recovery on routes to and from Japan after
passenger numbers plunged following the Diaoyu island dispute
between China and Japan.
Air China climbed 5.8 percent after
Citi added the stock to its Pan Asia focus list and raised its
target price by 28 percent. Its Shanghai listing rose 1.8
Citi expects the industry leader to benefit from a recovery
in domestic traffic, especially in the Beijing market.
China Eastern Airlines soared 8.2
percent after Citi analysts upgraded their rating from "neutral"
to "buy" and raised their target price for its Hong Kong listing
by 36 percent.
They expect CEA to be the largest beneficiary if the Japan
market recovers. Its Shanghai listing climbed 3.5 percent.
Hong Kong property developer New World Development
spiked 5.4 percent ahead of an expected press conference by the
Chinese territory's housing secretary later on Thursday, where
he may talk about land supply.
Ping An Insurance was again weaker on
Thursday, down 1.4 percent in Hong Kong and 0.2 percent in
Shanghai after China's insurance regulator said it was seeking
more information about HSBC's attempted stake sale to Thailand's