Hong Kong Stocks Advance to February High on Earnings

Hong Kong stocks rose, with the city’s benchmark index closing at the highest level since February, as HSBC Holdings Plc led banks higher after beating earnings estimates and Chinese exports unexpectedly accelerated.

HSBC, Europe’s biggest lender, climbed 1.7 percent. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., the refiner also known as Sinopec, rose 2.1 percent, after the official Xinhua news agency reported fuel prices may increase tomorrow. Esprit Holdings Ltd., a Hong Kong-based clothier that gets about 79 percent of sales from Europe, sank 4.8 percent after forecasting a “substantial” loss.

The Hang Seng Index gained 0.9 percent to 23,244.35 at the close in Hong Kong, with five shares rising for each that fell. Trading volume was 11 percent above the 30-day average. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland stocks jumped 1.5 percent to 11,284.74, the highest since March 12.

“Valuations look attractive,” said Andrew Sullivan, director of sales trading at Kim Eng Securities Hong Kong Ltd, a brokerage unit of Malayan Banking Bhd. “People are happy to be involved in the market, but they’ve also got their eye on the door. The earnings uptick that we’re seeing among banks has very much to do with writing back of impairment rather than real growth. That will worry people.”

The Hang Seng Index climbed 8.1 percent from this year’s low on April 18 as data from the U.S. signaled an improving economy, outweighing slower growth in China. The equity measure traded at 11.1 times estimated earnings, compared with 14.7 for Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Chinese Exports

China’s exports rose 14.7 percent in April even as shipments to the U.S. and Europe fell, government data released today showed. That compares with a 9.2 median forecast of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Imports advanced 16.8 percent, while the trade surplus of $18.2 billion was higher than projected.

HSBC gained 1.7 percent to HK$87.70. First-quarter pretax profit doubled to $8.43 billion from $4.32 billion as provisions for bad loans shrank, the London-based bank said yesterday. The result beat the $8.04 billion average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Zhejiang Expressway Co. climbed 3.5 percent to HK$6.30 after the Chinese toll-road operator said first-quarter profit increased 5.5 percent from a year earlier to 440 million yuan ($72 million).

Chinese construction equipment makers rallied after JPMorgan Chase & Co. said sale of excavators on the mainland increased 6 percent in April from a year earlier. Lonking Holdings Ltd., a Shanghai-based wheel-loader and steamroller maker, gained 3 percent to HK$1.72. Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science and Technology Co., China’s second-biggest construction equipment maker, advanced 6.4 percent to HK$8.30.

Sinopec, PetroChina

Chinese refiners advanced after the official Xinhua news agency reported on its website that gasoline and diesel prices may rise by about 100 yuan per ton tomorrow. Sinopec added 2.1 percent to HK$8.68. PetroChina Co. gained 2.9 percent to HK$10.26.

Among stocks that fell, Esprit dropped 4.8 percent to HK$10.38. The company said will post an annual loss partly from a goodwill impairment of as much as HK$2 billion ($258 million) related to China investments. Revenue dropped 7.9 percent to HK$6.72 billion in the three months ended March from a year earlier.

Standard Chartered Plc, the British bank that gets more than half of sales revenue from the Asia Pacific, fell 3.5 percent to HK$193.90. Operating profit in the first quarter declined “slightly” as wholesale banking revenue fell, the London-based lender said.

Futures on the Hang Seng Index added 0.7 percent to 23,050. The HSI Volatility Index gained 1.2 percent to 15.10, indicating traders expect a swing of 4.3 percent for the equity benchmark in the next 30 days.

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