Shares in Hong Kong rise in fragile recovery

In Hong Kong Friday, the Hang Seng Index added 0.7% to close at 22,554, and the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.5% to end the day at 3,188. Shares fell in Tokyo, sending the Nikkei Index down 0.4% to 9,770.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Hong Kong's economic recovery is fragile. This was emphasized by figures showing a rise in GDP of only 0.4% -- lower than economists had forecast. Meanwhile, the Hang Seng continued its rise with banks registering gains today. Bank of China (BACHY) gained 3.2%, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (IDBCY) rose 1.9% and Standard Chartered (SCBFF) added 2.9%.
HSBC (HBC) racked up a 1.8% gain after reporting positive third quarter gains earlier in the week. Today rumors are swirling that the bank will sell its East London headquarters building for £800 million ($1.3 billion) to Korea's National Pension Service, according to Reuters. The building is located on the Isle of Dogs at Canary Wharf, London's newest financial hub.

Also in Hong Kong, brokerage company Taifook Securities Group (TFSGF) surged 6.6% on news that the brokerage's parent company, NWS Holdings, may sell shares to China Construction Bank, according to China Daily. Brokerage Simsen International (SIHKF) also made huge gains on talk of a possible takeover. Shares leaped 29%.

In China, shares in household product makers gained, signaling a rise in consumer confidence. Hisense Electric, which sells televisions and other communication products surged 10%, while Qingdao Haier, which makes fridges, freezers and air conditioners jumped 3.3%. Trading resumed today for electricity producer Power Development Co. (EPWDF), which soared 6.4% on the news that it plans to sell shares in a private placement, according to Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, heavy snows in China sent shares of companies that make snow plows up; Changlin Co. rose 3.3% and Jianxi Hongdu Aviation Industry added 1.2%.

In Japan, glassmakers tumbled after reporting losses; Nippon Sheet Glass (NPSGF) plunged 8.2% and Central Glass (CGCLF) nosedived 6.8%, while mining companies followed the London Metals Index, which fell 0.8% yesterday. Toho Zinc (TOZOF) descended 3%, Sumitomo Metal Mining (SMMLY) slid 1.1%, while Nippon Mining Holdings (NMHDF) slumped 1.4%. Nippon Mining also refines oil, which has fallen to a four-week low, precipitating a 2.9% fall in Japan Petroleum Exploration shares.

On the brighter side, Sharp Corp.(SHCAY) advanced 3.8% after its ratings were lifted. Perhaps they'll be shipping their liquid-crystal, high-tech products over to their neighbors in China, where shoppers appear to be in much more of a buying mood.
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