Hong Kong shares rebound, alcohol producers give China some respite

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 04, 2012 09:30 hrs

* HSI +0.2 pct, H-shares +0.6 pct, CSI300 +1.1 pct

* Rebound in liquor sector triggers intra-day A-share bounce

* China telcos strong in HK, China Mobile leads HSI

* Macau gambling stocks hit by fears of crackdown

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Onshore China shares staged a reversal of early losses on Tuesday, with the beleaguered alcohol sector leading an index bounce off near four-year lows and bolstering gains in Hong Kong.

But strength in Chinese telecommunication stocks and tepid turnover in Hong Kong pointed to continuing risk aversion, aggravated by weak U.S. manufacturing data. While Shanghai volume hit its highest since Nov. 9 after an afternoon spurt, market watchers were sceptical whether this is trend-reversing.

The Hang Seng Index crept up 0.2 percent to 21,800 points, creeping back towards chart resistance at about 22,000 that it failed to breach on Monday for the second time in a month.

The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings erased midday losses to end up 0.6 percent, following a reversal in onshore markets after local media reported that Jiugui Liquor, which has been embroiled in a contamination scare, said it will completely replace its equipment.

The CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings climbed 1.1 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.8 percent. Both bounced off their lowest closings since the first two months of 2009.

It's too early to say Tuesday's gains signal a trend reversal in the A-share market, said Zhong Hua, a Shanghai-based equity strategist with Guotai Junan Securities.

"Today's rebound is just a reversion of some of the dramatic decline in the white spirits sector in the past month," he said.

Following a grim November when H-shares outperformed A-shares for a sixth straight month, the CSI300 and Shanghai Composite indexes are down 9.1 and 10.2 percent on the year.

For the Chinese liquor sector -- a major one on mainland indexes -- Zhong said that several other factors will weigh on earnings potential, including the country's campaign against corruption and producers' high inventory levels.

On Tuesday, Jiugui Liquor jumped the maximum 10 percent in Shenzhen, helping sector heavyweight Wuliangye close up 1.4 percent after earlier plumbing more than two-year lows.

Kweichow Moutai, however, bucked the broader rebound in the sector, sheding 1.6 percent.

The rebound in the A-share market helped Chinese brokerages to strong gains onshore. Haitong Securities jumped 3.2 percent in Shanghai, while Citic Securities rose 1.7 percent.


In Hong Kong, China Mobile rose 1.4 percent and was the leading boost to the Hang Seng Index. Smaller China Unicom was flat, but China Telecom gained 2.9 percent.

A report on Sina.com cited industry sources saying Unicom's iPhone 5 pre-orders in Hong Kong on Monday, when they began, reached 100,000.

China Mobile has risen 16.5 percent year-to-date, compared with the 18.3 percent increase for the Hang Seng Index. But gains have come in volatile trading in the past year, characterized by frequent sector rotations.

"It's been a very tiring and stressful year," Timothy Moe, Goldman Sach's chief Asia strategist, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

"Gains this year have come after Asia ex-Japan rallied 16 percent in the first two months, fell 16 percent to early June and then staged a 18 percent recovery from September. Sector rotation has also been intense, but that will continue into the year ahead," Moe said.

In a measure of that intensity, the Macau gaming sector slumped a day after casino revenue in November came in line with expectations amid growing speculation that Chinese authorities were stepping up scrutiny of money transfers in Macau as part of their anti-corruption campaign.

SJM Holdings tumbled 5.8 pct, while Sands China slid 4.4 percent after rising almost 10 percent in the previous three weeks.

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