April 3, 2017 / 4:51 AM / a year ago

Hong Kong stocks gain slightly on defensives, mainland markets closed

HONG KONG, April 3 (Reuters) - Hong Kong stocks gained slightly on Monday morning, set to break a two-day run of losses as investors bet on defensive energy and infrastructure plays in the absence of clear direction.

Mainland markets were closed for holidays.

The benchmark Hang Seng index gained 0.28 percent to 24,178.44 by lunch break, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index edged up 0.24 percent, to 10,297.92.

“Investors were continuing their portfolio re-balancing to mark the first day of trade for the second quarter,” said Steven Leung, a director at UOB Kay Hian. “Focus was on infrastructure plays in hopes of more favourable policy (from Beijing).”

Mainland stock markets will resume trade on Wednesday.

Kulun Energy rose 4.3 percent, to its highest since Jul. 6, 2015, while China Shenhua rose 1.3 percent.

China’s official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 51.8 in March from the previous month’s 51.6, and was well above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.

The reading was stronger than the 51.6 that economists had expected and the highest since April 2012.

Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Eric Meijer

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