Hong Kong Stocks Trim Losses; Airlines Leap On Oil Drop

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Hong Kongs stocks trimmed their opening losses Wednesday, following a previous decline triggered by worrying inflation data from China. The Hang Seng Index inched down 0.1%, backing off slowly from a 0.4% loss at the open. The mainland-China-tracking Hang Seng China Enterprises Index rose 0.6%. Airlines rose sharply on hopes for lower fuel costs after international crude futures took a hard hit overnight in New York and London. As a result, China Southern Airlines Co. spiked 6%, China Eastern Airlines Corp. rose 4.3%, and Air China Ltd. improved by 2.9%. However, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. -- which sometimes agressively hedges its fuel-cost exposure -- inched up just 0.1%. Several shipping shares also benefited from the oil fall and its implications for bunker fuel, as Orient Overseas International Ltd. climbed 2.4%, China Shipping Container Lines Co. advanced 1.3%, and SITC International Holdings Co. crept 0.2% higher. Mainland Chinese financial stocks also gained broadly, with movers including China Minsheng Banking Corp. (up 1.4%), Bank of China Ltd. (up 1.2%), and Bank of Communications Co. (up 1.1%). Among major mainland China insurers, China Taiping Insurance Holdings Co. added 1.4%, and PICC Property & Calsualty Co. rose 1.3%. Over on the mainland itself, the Shanghai Composite Index rebounded 1.2%, helped by many of the same sectors that supported the Hong Kong market. These included a 7.5% jump for Air China's Shanghai shares, a 9.9% rally for China Southern Airlines, and a 2.8% gain for Bank of China.

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