* HSI +0.9 pct, H-shares +1.1 pct, CSI300 -0.2 pct
* HSI, H-shares due for second-best weekly showing this year
* China Life Insurance tests April 11 high after Q1 earnings
* China Southern headed for worst loss in three weeks
By Clement Tan and Yimou Lee
HONG KONG, April 26 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares rose to
their highest since mid-March on Friday, stretching gains for
the week, as a recovery in physical commodity prices helped
magnify earnings-driven strength in Chinese financial and energy
Mainland China markets ended a choppy morning session
slightly lower as bourse volumes stayed anemic, heading for a
fourth weekly loss in five ahead of an extended Labour Day
holiday. China stock markets will be closed April 29 through May
At midday, the CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and
Shenzhen A-share listings slipped 0.2 percent, while the
Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.5 percent. On the week,
they are down 2.8 and 2.5 percent, respectively.
The Hang Seng Index was up 0.9 percent at 22,599
points, its highest since March 15. It is now up 2.7 percent on
the week and has now spiked 5 percent in six sessions from a
five-month low on April 18.
The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese
listings in Hong Kong rose 1.1 percent on the day and has now
gained 2.9 percent on the week. Both Hong Kong indexes are set
for their second-best weekly showing this year.
"Some individual companies are starting to show they are not
doing too badly, so this might be a good time for value
investors to start accumulating some positions," said Larry
Jiang, chief strategist at Guotai Junan International
On Friday, China Life Insurance rose 2.9 percent
in Hong Kong, testing its April 11 high in early trade, after
posting a 79 percent increase in first quarter net profit,
boosted by an increase in investment yield. Its Shanghai listing
inched up 0.2 percent.
Bank of China rose 1.7 percent to its highest
since early April after the country's fourth-largest lender
posted quarterly net profit that grew 8 percent, broadly in line
The bank said its non-performing loan ratio was 0.91
percent, down from 0.95 percent at the end of last year. Its net
interest margin widened to 2.22 percent from 2.15 percent a year
ago, setting the stage for the earnings of its "Big Four"
Chinese banking peers later in the day
In Hong Kong, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
rose 1.1 percent, while China Construction Bank
added 1.3 percent ahead of quarterly reports after
market close on Friday.
PetroChina soared 2 percent after reporting a
lower-than-expected 8 percent fall in first-quarter profit from
a year earlier.
CHINA AIRLINES IN FOCUS
The Chinese airline sector saw divergent moves, tracking the
contrasting quarterly net profits reported by Air China
and China Southern Airlines
late on Thursday.
Air China, Asia's second-largest airline by market value,
inched up 0.3 percent after the company posted a 4 percent rise
in first quarter net profit, while China Southern slid 4.5
percent after its quarterly net profit slumped a
worse-than-expected 82 percent.
Friday's losses are set to be China Southern's worst since
April 5 in Hong Kong and cut its 2013 gains to 3.8 percent.
China Southern is now trading at a 37 percent discount to its
forward 12-month earnings multiple, according to Thomson Reuters
This is much bigger than Air China's 27 percent discount,
but smaller than China Eastern Airlines' 47 percent
discount. China Eastern slipped 0.9 percent ahead of its
quarterly results after markets close on Friday.