* SSEC +0.4 pct, CSI300 +0.4 pct, HSI +0.2 pct
* China factory activity expanded faster than expected in Feb
* S.F. Holding on track to rise for 7th straight session
SHANGHAI, March 1 (Reuters) - China stocks rose on Wednesday after better-than-expected factory activity surveys offered fresh signs of economic recovery, days ahead of the country’s annual parliamentary meeting that investors hope will unveil fresh reforms.
In Hong Kong, shares were little changed as Asian investors gave a lukewarm response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech, which contained few specifics or surprises.
Both China’s CSI300 index and the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.4 percent by the lunch break to 3,466.35 points and 3,254.17 points, respectively.
China’s factory activity expanded faster than expected in February, with growth in both output and orders accelerating, official and private factory surveys showed on Wednesday.
“This is the 7th consecutive month that China’s official manufacturing PMI stayed within expansionary territory, suggesting that industrial activity remains buoyant,” said Zhou Hao, emerging markets economist at Commerzbank AG in Singapore.
Analysts say the survey results inject a dose of confidence into the market, at a time when fears surge that the recent recovery, triggered by government stimulus, has seen its day.
“There has been concern that the economic recovery we’ve seen is short-lived, and that growth will slow again in the second quarter. So this is good news,” said Chang Chengwei, analyst at Hengtai Futures.
Chang added that investors were also hopeful that the National People’s Congress (NPC), which starts this weekend, will unveil reform policies that “exceed expectations.”
All main sectors in China rose on Wednesday, with transport and property shares leading the gains.
Shares of express delivery firm S.F. Holding Co Ltd were on track to rise for the seventh day in a row, supported by strong profits and the successful completion of a backdoor listing last week.
S.F. Holding has surged more than 80 percent in the past week, becoming Shenzhen’s biggest listed firm, and catapulting the fortune of its founder Wang Wei past that of Ma Huateng, founder of internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index added 0.2 percent, to reach 23,788.45 points, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index was unchanged at 10,299.32 points.
The market’s sharp rally - Hang Seng is up more than 8 percent this year - appears to be losing steam, with the upward trend depending largely on money inflows from regions such as mainland China.
In February, Chinese investors spent 68.1 billion yuan ($9.90 billion) on Hong Kong stocks via the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, nearly double the amount from January, according to the official China Securities Journal. ($1 = 6.8761 Chinese yuan renminbi)
Samuel Shen and John Ruwitch; Editing by Randy Fabi