SHANGHAI - Hong Kong stocks held steady on Tuesday morning, supported by Chinese fund flows and a firm Wall Street, but gains were limited as investors locked in profits after a rising streak.
China's share markets edged lower, as analysts warned that inflation may soon reach a peak after Beijing posted higher-than-expected consumer and producer price inflation in January.
The city's benchmark Hang Seng index was flat at 23,712.17 points, after rising to a four-month high on Monday, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index gained 0.1 percent, to 10,265.97 points.
The market was supported by rising southbound inflows through the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, which used 25.4 percent of Monday's daily quota, compared with an average of less than 11 percent in January.
"HK-listings represent a good bargain for onshore investors, who now have limited asset classes to invest in, due to physical property purchase restrictions onshore and the high valuations of M&A targets offshore," said Nomura analysts in a research note, adding that Hong Kong stocks staged a mini-rally partly due to recent mainland demand.
Investors were also watching how forceful the Federal Reserve chief would be in keeping alive the prospect of a interest rate hike in March when she testifies to Congress later on Tuesday. A trend of rising rates would weigh on the rate-sensitive property shares but benefit the financial sector. Both sectors made modest gains in early trading.
Most sectors retreated by the lunch break, but an index tracking services stocks gained 1.8 percent.
Television Broadcasts Ltd jumped 8.2 percent after the company said it was cutting the size of a planned buyback but lifting the offer price, as the broadcaster moved to counter a potentially hostile investor.
Both China's CSI300 index and the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.1 percent at the end of the morning session, to 3,432.24 points and 3,212.43 points, respectively.
China's consumer inflation rate in January grew the most since May 2014 compared with the previous year, and its producer price index rose the fastest since August 2011, both beating market expectations and adding to signs of economic recovery.
Capital Economics analysts cautioned in a research note that both indexes would peak soon and "hopes for a sustained reflation in China will be disappointed."
The real estate sector inched up 0.3 percent at midday.
Most top developers surveyed by Reuters planned to increase their land investments in 2017, but analysts said the property sector remained under pressure this year facing tightening restriction and Beijing's pledge to contain asset bubbles.
Shares of Leshi Internet Information and Technology Corp Beijing were among the best performers in the blue-chip CSI300, rallying 4.3 percent by midday. The company's controlling shareholder proposed awarding 20 new shares for every 10 shares held by all investors.