Hong Kong stocks edged higher, while Shanghai shares moved solidly lower in early Wednesday trading, as the markets largely shrugged off Chinese economic data that printed a little above expectations. Statistics released a half-hour after the start of trade showed second-quarter economic growth at 7% from a year earlier, beating a consensus forecast for a 6.8% gain in a Wall Street Journal survey. June industrial production (up 6.8% on year) and retail sales (up 10.6%) also exceeded projections. But about 10 minutes after the data release, the main Chinese stock markets showed little difference with their pre-data levels, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index up 0.2%, and the Shanghai Composite Index down 1.6%. However, major mainland Chinese banks traded broadly higher despite showing losses earlier in the trading session. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. rose 0.3% in Hong Kong and 0.8% in Shanghai, while China Construction Bank Corp. improved by 0.6% and 1.8% in Hong Kong and Shanghai respectively. Among decliners in Hong Kong, Angang Steel Co. dropped 2.7% after posting weak first-half profit numbers, while a warning of an up-to-80% plunge in six-month net profit for Weichai Power Co. sent those shares down almost 12%. In Shanghai, separate data showing an acceleration in housing sales helped lift Gemdale Corp. by 1.2%, but heavy losses for many resource stocks (Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. down 4.5%) and airlines (China Eastern Airlines Corp. down 6%) weighed on the broader market.
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