* HSI +1.0 pct, H-shares +1.3 pct, CSI300 -1.1 pct
* Short covering drives Minsheng Bank's H-share gains after
* Jiangxi Copper up on higher commod prices, UBS upgrade
* China property A-shares down on reported lending curbs
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, April 25 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares closed at
their highest in about a month on Thursday, spurred by
recovering commodity prices and positive quarterly earnings from
China Minsheng Bank, the country's seventh-largest lender.
But a weak property sector dragged mainland Chinese markets
to a third loss in four sessions. The CSI300 of the
leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings slid 1.1 percent.
The Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.9 percent.
The Hang Seng Index ended up 1 percent at 22,401.2,
its highest close since March 27. The China Enterprises Index
of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong climbed 1.3
Shanghai bourse volumes stayed above average for a
fifth-straight session, while Hong Kong turnover was at its
highest in a week.
"Minsheng's first quarter earnings were pretty solid, but
much of its gains in Hong Kong today were down to short
covering," said Jackson Wong, Tanrich Securities' vice-president
of equity sales.
Short selling interest in Minsheng Bank's H-share listing
averaged 26 percent in the first three days of the week, way
above the 9.8 percent average for the broader Hong Kong market.
On Thursday, Minsheng's Hong Kong shares jumped
4.8 percent to its highest since March 28 after China's
seventh-largest listed bank posted a 20 percent rise in first
quarter net profit from a year earlier.
But its Shanghai listing fell 2 percent,
tracking losses in the Chinese banking sector on the mainland
after regulators ordered banks to report suspicious or irregular
fixed-income transactions as part of a clampdown on the
country's vast interbank market.
The People's Bank of China, which regulates the 24.4
trillion yuan ($4 trillion) interbank bond market, told
commercial banks at a closed-door meeting on Wednesday that it
was preparing tougher regulation to deal with substitute
Chinese property developers listed in the mainland were
among the biggest index drags after the China Business News
reported that the banking regulator has instructed lenders to
stop extending loans to developers guilty of "malpractices".
This came after data from the central bank showed China's
outstanding real estate loans in the first quarter rose 16.4
percent from the same period a year ago, even as overall
industrial lending slowed.
Poly Real Estate tumbled 3.3 percent in
Shanghai, while China Vanke skidded 2.8 percent in
COMMODS REBOUND AIDS STOCKS
Commodities-related stocks were broadly higher as gold and
copper prices rose to their highest in a week following a recent
plunge in the physical markets. Zijin Mining
, China's biggest gold miner, jumped 4.9
percent in Hong Kong in its best day since November.
Jiangxi Copper spiked 4.4 percent in
Hong Kong and a more modest 0.6 percent in Shanghai, also helped
by an upgrade by UBS from "hold" to "buy" with analysts
believing its share price after the recent selloff, now
represents an attractive risk-reward profile.
First quarter earnings were in also in focus, as Haitong
Securities climbed 1.9 percent in Hong Kong
and 0.5 percent in Shanghai after posting favourable results.
Bank of China , the first of the "Big
Four" Chinese banks to post quarterly earnings later in the day
along with a clutch of bellwether Chinese companies, inched up
0.6 percent in Hong Kong.
China Unicom, the country's second-largest mobile
provider, slipped 0.2 percent ahead of its first quarter
earnings. After markets closed, Unicom said quarterly net profit
jumped 90 percent from a year earlier.