Hong Kong Stocks Add To Gains As Banks Rise

MarketWatch Pulse

Hong Kong stocks rose further Friday morning, with mainland Chinese banks advancing broadly after the central-bank governor discussed liberalizing China's interest rates. The Hang Seng Index rose 0.4%, with the mainland-China-tracking Hang Seng China Enterprises Index rallying 1%. People's Bank of China Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan said Thursday that the probability is "very high" China will fully liberalize rates later this year. Zhou also said there were plans to launch a deposit-insurance scheme in the first half of this year. Major mainland Chinese commercial banks rose sharply, as Bank of China Ltd. rose 2.6%,China Merchants Bank Co. climbed 2.5%, China Minsheng Banking Corp. advanced 2.1%, both Bank of Communications Co. and China Citic Bank Corp. added 1.6% apiece, and China Construction Bank Corp. rose 1.1%. Local lenders also posted gains, with Chongqing Rural Commercial Bank Co. up 1.5%, and Bank of Chongqing Co. higher by 1.1%. Most Chinese brokerage firms also notched gains after data from the Shanghai Stock Exchange showed the outstanding value of margin loans had hit a fresh record high. First Shanghai Investments Ltd. tacked on 2.2%, China Everbright Ltd. headed 2.1% higher, and Citic Securities Co. traded 1.8% higher. Chinese auto-rental provider CAR Inc. improved by 2.1% after J.P. Morgan raised its target price for the stock. Over on the Chinese mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index snagged a 1% gain, extending a 1.8% rally on Thursday.

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