China stocks rise, blue chips in focus; Hong Kong up
* CSI300 +0.4 pct; SSEC +0.2 pct; HSI +1.1 pct
* Fresh signs insurers are expanding stock portfolios
* Small caps under pressure as share sale ban expires soon
SHANGHAI, Dec 23 (Reuters) - China's major stock indexes rose on Wednesday, amid fresh signs that cash-rich insurers were on a shopping spree at the year-end, jostling to buy stakes in blue chip companies.
Hong Kong stocks were also upbeat, aided by strength on Wall Street, and a sharp rebound in energy shares after oil bounced off 11-year lows.
The blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.4 percent, to 3,892.25 points by the lunch break, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 percent, to 3,657.79 points.
Traders said interest in blue chips has been rekindled by growing evidence that yield-seeking insurers were aggressively hunting for modestly-valued industry leaders.
"Insurers' purchases have put blue chips into the market's spot light," said David Dai, Shanghai-based investor director at Nanhai Fund Management Co.
He added that small-caps were relatively expensive now and would be under heavier selling pressure in early January, when a six-month share sale ban by major shareholders - introduced during the summer market rout - expires. Continuación...