September 30, 2016 / 5:26 AM / 2 years ago

China stocks firm ahead of holiday; Hong Kong follows Asian markets lower

* SSEC 0.1 pct, CSI300 0.3 pct, HSI -1.3 pct

* Caixin PMI offers fresh signs of nascent economic recovery

* China market may rebound after holiday on improving liquidity

SHANGHAI, Sept 30 (Reuters) - China stocks were firm on Friday, with sentiment aided by signs of a nascent economic recovery, the yuan’s imminent inclusion in the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket, and expectations that short-term liquidity will improve after China’s week-long National Day holiday.

But Hong Kong shares fell more than 1 percent, tracking weakness in most Asian markets and overnight losses on the Wall Street.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.3 percent, to 3,254.55 points by lunch break, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.1 percent, to 3,002.81 points.

The Caixin/Markit PMI index rose to 50.1, showing China’s factory activity expanded in September as domestic and export orders picked up, adding to evidence that China’s economy is improving, albeit slowly.

“This suggests that the positive momentum seen in the activity and inflation data over the past few months will likely be sustained,” wrote Julia Wang, HSBC’s Greater China economist.

Wang expected growth to remain supported by fiscal expansion in the second half, while overall monetary policy would likely remain accommodative.

Although trading turnover remains thin ahead of the holiday, which will keep the market suspended all next week, some investors are betting on a post-holiday rebound because of forthcoming developments which are seen as positive.

The Chinese currency will officially enter the International Monetary Fund’s SDR reserve basket on Oct. 1, potentially easing fears of yuan depreciation, while China’s fresh crackdown on property speculation in second- and third-tier cities may direct some money back to the stock market, traders said.

“Looking ahead, we believe several forces suppressing the stock market recently would be weakened after the holiday, and a rebound is possible,” JT Asset Management wrote.

“With the yuan’s SDR inclusion, depreciation pressure on the yuan would be reduced temporarily, thus greatly diminishing the distraction from currency market fluctuations.”

The asset manager added that with more curbs on home purchases, “the property market is expected to cool down, which is good for liquidity conditions in the stock market”.

Most sectors rose, with property and consumer stocks leading the gains.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dropped 1.3 percent, to 23,438.07 points, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 1.2 percent, to 9,678.80.

Most sectors fell but energy stocks remained firm following the previous session’s surge on higher oil prices.

Reporting by Samuel Shen and John Ruwitch; Editing by Eric Meijer

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