Hong Kong shares rose in tandem with their Shanghai peers early Thursday, with gains for the financial sector leading the market higher. The Hang Seng Index added 0.4%, coming back from a 1% drop the previous session, while the Shanghai Composite also rose 0.4%, and Hong Kong's H-share index improved by 0.9%. Banks and brokers were broadly stronger in Hong Kong, with some reports citing a benefit from rising volumes over the past several weeks since the launch of the Hong Kong-Shanghai Stock Connect. China Merchants Bank Co. rose 1.6%, Bank of Communications Co. climbed 3.1%, and China Citic Bank Corp. gained 2.1%. Energy shares also improved as crude-oil futures moved off their recent losses during early Asia trading, with PetroChina Co. up 0.9% and Cnooc Ltd. rising 2.3%. Real-estate was mixed, however (China Vanke Co. down 0.9%, Shimao Property Holdings Ltd. down 0.4%, but Greentown China Holdings Ltd. up 2%), while the two casino-operator components of the Hang Seng Index -- Sands China Ltd. and Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. -- fell 1.6% and 2.4%, respectively, to extend their losses made since the release of weak Macau gaming revenue data for November. Sands is now down 10.7% for the week so far, while Galaxy is 9.8% weaker over that period. And stock in Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. rallied 2.3%, with investors seemingly unworried about the carrier's pilots union deciding to refuse overtime and possibly slow work down after salary talks failed to yield an agreement.
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