October 5, 2016 / 4:36 AM / 2 years ago

Hong Kong stocks rise in thin trade; oil shares shine

HONG KONG, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Hong Kong stocks rose slightly on Wednesday, outperforming regional markets, lifted by energy shares after an overnight surge in oil prices.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 0.5 percent at 23,796.21 points by lunch break, while China Enterprises Index gained 0.9 percent to 9,843.22 points. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.2 percent.

Energy stocks account for 14 percent of Hong Kong’s benchmark index, a much higher percentage than in many other markets.

Wednesday’s gains came in relatively thin trade as mainland markets are shut for a week due to Golden Week holidays.

Investors remain broadly cautious on the outlook for Hong Kong equities in the near term after those rose by more than 20 percent in the past three months.

“We are a bit more conservative on the outlook for the Hong Kong market than the region due to our cautious view on the property sector,” said Tai Hui, chief Asia markets strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management in Hong Kong.

In terms of valuations, Hong Kong trades broadly in line with regional peers.

On a price-to-book basis, the Hong Kong stock market trades at 1.2 times book, a shade below its 15-year average of 1.3 times. In comparison, the broader Asia-ex Japan market trades at 1.4 times book compared to a 15-year average of 1.7.

Stocks of Petrochina, Kunlun Energy, CNOOC and Sinopec Corp were among Wednesday’s top gainers, though their advances were trimmed by the end of the morning.

A sub-index measuring property stocks was down 0.2 percent, falling for the third consecutive day. Shares of China Resources Land eased 0.7 percent and China Overseas Land was broadly flat.

China’s Shenzhen has rolled out new steps, including higher mortgage down payments and home purchase restrictions, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday, joining other Chinese cities attempting to cool soaring home prices.

Turnover has been very low this week with volumes over the past two days struggling to hit the 50 billion Hong Kong dollars ($6.45 billion) mark compared to 70 billion Hong Kong dollars of shares traded last Friday, before China’s week-long holiday began.

$1 = 7.7568 Hong Kong dollars Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee and Donny Kwok; Editing by Richard Borsuk

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