(Updates to midday)
* HSI up 0.9 pct, Shanghai Comp up 1 pct
* Turnover lackluster ahead of Friday's China inflation data
* Prada jumps on chatter of China luxury tax reduction
* China property strong after Goldman upgrade
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, March 8 (Reuters) - Hong Kong and China
shares ended higher at midday on Thursday, poised to snap a
three-day losing streak with the financial and energy sectors
stronger after taking the brunt of this week's sell-off.
But the gains barely clawed back Wednesday's losses and
turnover was thin, suggesting investors are still cautious and
will be looking for more clues on the state of China's economy,
including inflation data on Friday.
The Hang Seng Index gained 0.9 percent, while the
China Enterprises Index, comprised of the top mainland
listings in Hong Kong, rose 1.5 percent. The Shanghai Composite
Index added 1 percent.
"March will be a month of consolidation. Along with data,
corporate earnings will be key in showing the way forward," said
Edward Huang, an equity strategist with Haitong International
"There have been some early reversals in calls on the
Chinese property sector, but I would wait for data and some
earnings to come through first," Huang added.
Shares of Chinese banks and insurance companies, among the
hardest hit in the last three sessions, were among the top
boosts to benchmark indices.
Ping An Insurance rose 4.9 percent in
Hong Kong and 2.7 percent in Shanghai after losing 10.4 percent
and 5 percent, respectively, in the last three days.
Its bigger rival, China Life Insurance ,
recovered some of its steep losses this week. The world's
largest insurer by market value gained 1 percent in Shanghai and
2.2 percent in Hong Kong.
PetroChina Co Ltd was up 0.4 percent in
Shanghai, while China Shenhua Energy Co Ltd gained 1
percent and was among the top boosts on the Shanghai Composite.
Among the top percentage gainers in Hong Kong, Italian
luxury brand Prada SpA jumped 5.2 percent in midday
volumes that was almost twice its 30-day average to near
all-time highs last reached July 27.
Traders cited chatter of a possible reduction in luxury
goods taxes in the mainland from the ongoing annual meeting of
CHINESE PROPERTY SECTOR STRONG, TIDE CHANGING?
Chinese developer Evergrande Real Estate jumped
5.2 percent to HK$4.66, leading gains in the sector with traders
citing a Goldman Sachs note that raised its target price to
In the same note, Evergrande was cited as a top pick. As of
end-January this year, it also ranks among the top 10 holdings
in the $8 million Legg Mason LMHK China Fund.
Goldman Chinese property analysts said there is increasingly
evidence that local governments are ready to give more support
to sustaining the volume recovery in the sector.
Longfor Properties, another of Goldman's top picks, gained
1.3 percent. Its peer, Agile Property was up 2.4
percent ahead of its 2011 corporate earnings later today.
(Additional reporting by Vikram Subhedar; Editing by Richard