Hong Kong Stocks Rise as U.S. Jobless Claims Fall, Europe Speeds Bailout

Hong Kong stocks rose after U.S. jobless claims fell and on signs Europe’s leaders will speed up the timetable for setting up a bailout fund to strengthen defenses against the debt crisis.

Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd. (551), the maker of shoes for Nike Inc., climbed 2.9 percent. HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), Europe’s biggest lender by market value, rose 1.6 percent in Hong Kong. China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd. (688) paced gains among mainland developers listed in the city on speculation the government may introduce policies to support economic growth the National People’s Congress next week.

“There’s been a modest improvement in the U.S. economy,” Stephen Wood, New York-based chief market strategist for Russell Investments, said on Bloomberg Television. “To the extent that Europe can keep itself off the headlines, investors can concentrate on fundamentals.”

The Hang Seng Index added 0.8 percent to 21,562.26 as of the 4 p.m. close in Hong Kong, rising 0.7 percent this week. The gauge advanced the past three months, its longest such run since December 2009, on signs the U.S. economy is improving and Europe will contain its debt crisis. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies increased 1.2 percent to 11,738.71 today.

The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong will shorten its midday trading break from next week. Starting on March 5, afternoon trading will open 30 minutes earlier and run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Fewer Jobless Claims

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 0.1 percent today. The gauge rose 0.6 percent to the highest level since June 2008 in New York yesterday after the number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits fell to a level matching a four-year low, more evidence the labor market is recovering.

Exporters advanced. Yue Yuen advanced 2.9 percent to HK$27. Techtronic Industries Co. (669), a power-tool manufacturer that counts North America as its largest market, gained 3.5 percent to HK$9.76.

Companies that get revenue from Europe rose before a decision later today on whether euro-area governments will agree to contribute the first installments to a 500 billion-euro ($666 billion) fund this year and complete the capitalization in 2015, a year ahead of schedule.

“There will be an acceleration,” European Union President Herman Van Rompuy said yesterday in Brussels after a European Union summit.

HSBC increased 1.6 percent to HK$70.30. Esprit Holdings Ltd. (330), a Hong Kong-based clothier that depends on Europe for about 80 percent of sales, jumped 6.4 percent to HK$19.26. Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (13), owner of ports in Germany and Spain, rose 1 percent to HK$77.45.

People’s Congress

Mainland developers advanced before the National People’s Congress, the highest governmental body in China, that starts on March 5.

“Investors are hoping there’ll be more reforms that may boost the market,” said Wu Kan, a Shanghai-based fund manager at Dazhong Insurance Co., which oversees $285 million. “For instance, home appliances may benefit if they have policies to increase consumption. Better liquidity these days is also helping the market reach highs.”

China Overseas Land rose 3.3 percent to HK$15.86. Country Garden Holdings Co. (2007), a Guangdong-based real estate company, increased 4.1 percent to HK$3.33. Soho China Ltd. (410), a homebuilder in Shanghai and Beijing, climbed 3.9 percent to HK$5.67.

Yuexiu Property Co. (123) surged 13 percent to HK$1.70 after the developer posted a fivefold increase in full-year net income to 5.1 billion yuan ($810 million).

Sands China

Sands China Ltd. (1928) rose 1 percent to HK$29.25 after the Macau casino operator said full-year profit climbed 70 percent to $1.13 billion. That beat the $1.08 billion average of 13 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Of the 55 companies on the Hang Seng Composite Index (HSCI) that posted results since Jan. 9, 18 missed analysts’ estimates, while 11 exceeded expectations, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Hang Seng Index (HSI) rose 17 percent this year. The rally boosted the price of shares on the gauge to 10.9 times estimated earnings. That compares with 13.2 times for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 11.1 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

Futures on the Hang Seng expiring in March rose 1 percent to 21,538. The HSI Volatility Index dropped 4.4 percent to 20.67, indicating options traders expect a swing of 5.9 percent in the benchmark index over the next 30 days.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Burgos in Singapore at jburgos4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Gentle at ngentle2@bloomberg.net

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