* CSI300: +1.7 pct SSEC: +2.1 pct HSI: +0.5 pct
* Interest shifted into blue chips on hint from index futures
* Invesco’s China fund venture raised $1.8 bln for HK investment
By Samuel Shen and Pete Sweeney
SHANGHAI, April 17 (Reuters) - China stocks rose to fresh seven-year highs on Friday morning, on track for their seventh straight week of gains, as investor interest shifts from pricy small caps to blue chips.
Investors got a hint of the market’s focus from divergent performances of two stock index futures launched on Thursday.
The SSE50 Index futures <0#CIH:>, based on an index tracking China’s 50 big companies, jumped 7.4 percent on debut while the CSI500 Index futures <0#CIC:> which is based on an index tracking 500 small-cap stocks, fell 1.4 percent.
“Index futures reflect market expectations, so the flood of money gushing into the stock market will be guided into blue chips,” said Zhang Chen, analyst at Shanghai-based hedge fund manager Hongyi Investment.
The market also drew its optimism from a bullish research report by brokerage Shenwan Hongyaun, which predicted that China’s stock market will rise further on the back of central government support, as money from retail investors, national pension funds and foreigners will keep flowing in.
The report, which was briefed to China’s top securities regulator Xiao Gang during his visit to the brokerage on Thursday, has been widely circulated online.
“The market has the understanding that regulators agree to the logic of such a report, and support a long and steady bull market,” said Zhang of Hongyi Investment.
The CSI300 index rose 1.7 percent, to 4,590.14 points at the end of the morning session, bringing this week’s gain so far to 5.7 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 2.1 percent, to 4,281.39 points, on track to end this week up more than 6 percent.
But small caps were much weaker on Friday morning, with the start-up board ChiNext rising only 0.6 percent.
Hong Kong’s market continued to rise on hopes that more money will flow in from the mainland.
The Hang Seng index added 0.5 percent, to 27,880.96 points, set to post a weekly gain of about 2.2 percent. The Hong Kong China Enterprises Index gained 0.5 percent, to 14,788.63, having jumped 5.7 percent so far this week.
Invesco Ltd’s China fund venture said in a statement it had raised 11 billion yuan ($1.8 billion) for China’s first mutual fund product to buy Hong Kong stocks under the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, confirming an earlier Reuters report.
Chinese liquor makers continued to jump. Kweichow Moutai , China’s biggest maker of luxury liquor baijiu, hit a record high after rivals signalled recovery in 2015.
Editing by Jacqueline Wong