April 18 (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong stocks rose, driving the benchmark index to a two-week high, as the International Monetary Fund raised global economic forecasts and Spain sold more debt than targeted, boosting the outlook for exporters.
Esprit Holdings Ltd., a clothier that counts Europe as its biggest market, advanced 5.3 percent. Cnooc Ltd., China’s largest offshore oil producer, climbed 3.3 percent after crude futures advanced. CSR Corp. gained 5.7 percent after the Xinhua News Agency said China’s largest train maker will supply high-speed trains to Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway.
“The environment for equities is pretty good,” said Donald Williams, chief investment officer at Platypus Asset “Even though 2012 is going to be a tough year because most of Europe will be in recession for a large part of this calendar year, you are still looking at a global growth rate of 3.5 percent, which is a pretty decent growth rate.”
The Hang Seng Index gained 1.1 percent to 20,780.73 at the close in Hong Kong, with almost five shares rising for each that fell. Volume on the measure was 9.2 percent lower than the 30-day intraday average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies advanced 1 percent to 10,896.89.
Hong Kong’s equity benchmark has climbed 12 percent this year through yesterday as signs the U.S. economy is recovering fueled confidence among exporters. The rally boosted the value of stocks on the gauge to 10.5 times. That compares with 13.3 times for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 10.8 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Futures on the S&P 500 added 0.1 percent today. The gauge advanced 1.6 percent in New York yesterday after the IMF raised its 2012 global growth estimate to 3.5 percent from 3.3 percent. Shares also rose as Spain sold 3.18 billion euros of bills ($4.18 billion), compared with a maximum target of 3 billion euros the Treasury set for the sale.
Exporters advanced. Esprit jumped 5.3 percent to HK$16.78. Man Wah Holdings Ltd., a sofa maker that depends on the U.S. for more than half of its sales, climbed 3.9 percent to HK$4.26.
Energy and resources companies paced gains among the 11 industry groups on the Hang Seng Composite Index after crude and copper futures rose. Cnooc climbed 3.3 percent to HK$16.08. Jiangxi Copper Co., China’s biggest producer of the metal, increased 2.6 percent to HK$18.76.
CSR advanced 5.7 percent to HK$5.92 after Xinhua reported the company will supply more than $200 million worth of high-speed trains for a line connecting Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, which is scheduled to open in 2015.
Among shares that fell, Guangzhou R&F Properties Co Ltd. dropped 2.5 percent to HK$9.85 after a report showed home prices declined in 37 of 70 cities in the mainland last month.
Greentown China Holdings Ltd. slid 1.8 percent to HK$5.50. China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd., the biggest Chinese developer listed in Hong Kong, lost 0.1 percent to HK$16, trimming a decline of as much as 1.5 percent.
Declines among real estate companies were limited on speculation that falling property prices will allow more room to ease monetary policy, according to Toshio Sumitani, a strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research Center.
Futures on the Hang Seng Index expiring this month rose 1.1 percent to 20,769. The HSI Volatility Index slipped 5.1 percent to 20.24, indicating options traders expect a swing of about 5.8 percent in the benchmark index over the next 30 days.
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