* HSI +0.9 pct, H-shares +0.5 pct, Shanghai +0.6 pct
* Sinopec hits multi-month highs after Goldman upgrade
* ANTA up after positive earnings spur upgrades, lifts sector
* Chinese property down despite banks saying no lending halt
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares rose again on Thursday, and mainland markets also firmed for a second day, led by oil giant Sinopec after a broker upgrade and an increase in China’s gasoline and diesel prices.
Corporate earnings drove some price moves. ANTA Sports climbed 2 percent after Wednesday’s release of its 2013 net profit spurred a few broker upgrades, also buoying its Chinese sportswear rivals.
At midday, the Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.6 percent, while the CSI300 of the largest Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings slipped 0.1 percent in choppy trade as volumes stayed rather lackluster.
The Hang Seng Index, which on Tuesday closed at its lowest since Feb. 14, climbed 0.9 percent to 22,638.7 points. The China Enterprises Index of the leading offshore Chinese listings in Hong Kong rose 0.5 percent.
“It’s still a very short-term market,” said Larry Jiang, chief investment strategist with Guotai Junan International. “News that have driven markets in the last few days are nothing quite new, people are just waiting for the next shoe to drop on China reforms.”
Mainland markets were roiled earlier this week on news reports that some China banks have stopped some lending to property-related industries as developers stepped up sales promotions and cut prices.
A volatile yuan market has added to policy jitters ahead of China’s annual parliamentary meetings, which begin March 5. Some market participants are reading the yuan’s fall as an attempt by officials to discourage arbitrage flows as well as prepare for a possible expansion of its trading band.
“So if anything, the takeaway is Beijing’s reform resolve remains firm. A major investment theme this year is state-enterprise reform, so that makes Sinopec look interesting,” Jiang added.
China Petroleum and Chemical Corp (Sinopec) jumped 4.1 percent to a three-month high in Hong Kong, while soaring 5.5 percent to a 10-month high in Shanghai.
Goldman Sachs on Thursday added Sinopec H-shares to its conviction buy list. It raised its target price by 18 percent due to several factors including Sinopec’s “robust” refining margins from oil price deregulation and premium on clean fuels.
In other good news for Sinopec, the National Development and Reform Commission said on Wednesday the retail price of gasoline and diesel will rise by about 2 percent as part of its fuel price review every 10 working days.
Sinopec shares are now up 12 percent in Hong Kong and 20 percent in Shanghai in February. Investors cheered plans announced last week to sell up to 30 percent of its retail oil business to private investors, seen as the first sign of reform at a state-owned enterprise.
China Business News reported on Wednesday its chairman Fu Chengyu as saying more specific reform plans will be announced in March during the National People’s Congress.
The Chinese property sector resumed its fall, after some respite on Wednesday, even though the official Xinhua news agency reported that China’s eight major lenders have not tightened or halted their property-related lending.
In Hong Kong, China Overseas Land slid 2.2 percent, while Shimao Property sank nearly 3 percent. In Shanghai, Poly Real Estate shed 0.6 percent.
Macau casino operator SJM Holdings moved up 1.6 percent on positive earnings. Tencent Holdings rose 3.3 percent to a record high, as Baidu’s earnings trumped forecasts.