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Hong Kong stocks end 1.45pc higher, Hang Seng Index jumped 348.81 points

Hong Kong stocks end 1.45pc higher, Hang Seng Index jumped 348.81 pointsHONG KONG: Hong Kong shares jumped 1.45 percent Thursday, in line with a broad regional advance after a dovish Federal Reserve statement cooled expectations of an early summer US interest rate hike.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index jumped 348.81 points to 24,468.89 on turnover of HK$ 102.57 billion ($ 13.23 billion). Shanghai ended up 0.14 percent, marking a sixth straight gain.

The Fed, after a closely watched two-day meeting, issued a statement that had removed a pledge to remain “patient” on raising rates, signalling a possible mid-year rate increase.

But bank chief Janet Yellen stressed that while jobs were picking up the economy was more muted than three months ago, adding that consumer spending has slipped, inflation slowed, wages are flat, and the stronger dollar has hurt US exports.

The policy committee lowered its rate outlook to 0.5-0.75 percent for the end of this year, from 1.0 percent previously, while also reducing its 2016 forecast to 1.75-2.5 percent from 2.5 percent. It also cut its economic growth forecasts.

The news added to already strong buying sentiment in Hong Kong after China’s Premier Li Keqiang said Beijing was fully equipped to support the world’s number two economy if it continued to falter.

Among advancers Tencent surged 6.7 percent to HK$ 145.00, a day after announcing net profit jumped 54 percent last year.

Insurer AIA added 3.10 percent to HK$ 48.20, HSBC rose 1.06 percent to HK$ 66.60 and PetroChina put on 2.31 percent to HK$ 8.43.

In mainland China, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index edged up 4.97 points to 3,582.27 on turnover of 612.2 billion yuan ($ 99.6 billion). The index has risen nine percent since last week and is now at its highest level since May 19, 2008.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China’s second exchange, rose 0.52 percent, or 9.48 points, to 1,827.86 on turnover of 475.9 billion yuan.

“Downward pressure on the economy remains and investors are still hoping for policy easing to be launched on all fronts,” Central China Securities strategist Zhang Gang told AFP.

Infrastructure firms rose in Shanghai on speculative buying. China Railway Construction surged by its 10 percent daily limit to 16.27 yuan and China Railway Erju jumped 7.29 percent to 24.88 yuan.

But insurance companies fell in Shanghai. New China Life Insurance dropped 3.91 percent to 54.59 yuan while China Pacific Insurance lost 3.08 percent to 33.34 yuan.

Newly listed Guangdong Songfa Ceramics surged 44 percent — the maximum allowed for new listings — to 30.74 yuan in Shanghai.

In Shenzhen, Hunan TV and Broadcast Intermediary Co. jumped 5.10 percent to 23.08 yuan after the announcement of an agreement to co-finance films from US movie studio Lionsgate.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

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