Hong Kong stocks bounced between small gains and losses Thursday morning following a seven-day losing streak. The Hang Seng Index inched up 0.1%, with the mainland-China-tracking Hang Seng China Enterprises up 0.7%. Mainland Chinese banks advanced broadly after China's vice finance minister said the central government has approved a 1 trillion yuan ($160 billion) quota to allow local governments to swap some of their maturing high-interest debt into lower-interest government debt in a bid to reduce their debt burden and decrease bad-debt risks for banks. China Merchants Bank Co. advanced 1.2%, Bank of Communications Co. rose 1.1%, Bank of China Ltd. added 1%, and Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. moved up 0.8%. Major insurers also gained, with China Taiping Insurance Holdings Co. up 1.7%, and China Pacific Insurance Group Co. higher by 1.1%. However, Macau casino stocks extended their recent sell-off, which had been partly triggered by the cut to the sector's target prices by several investment banks. Wynn Macau Ltd. slid 2.9%, Sands China Ltd. shed 2.7%, MGM China Holdings Ltd. lost 2.2%, Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. fell 2%, and Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. dropped 1.5%. Among other market movers, top-weighted index component HSBC Holdings PLC declined 0.8% to extended recent losses, and fellow index heavyweight Tencent Holdings Ltd. also lost 0.8%. However, telecoms giant China Mobile Ltd. -- also a large presence on the Hang Seng Index -- rebounded 2% after two days of heavy losses. Hong Kong-based telecom carrier PCCW Ltd. rose 0.4%, after the company said Wednesday that it will buy California-based Vuclip, a mobile-video service provider, with the price for the buyout not disclosed. And shares of broadband-service provider HKBN Ltd. debuted after pricing at the top of their indicative range, though the stock was little changed in early trade. Over on the Chinese mainland, meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.5%, extending a 0.2% gain the previous day.
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