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Nikkei Markets

Hong Kong shares eke out small gains after mixed China data

Swire Pacific slips after results, while Doumob surges in trading debut

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares inched higher after a choppy trading day on Thursday, as investors awaited clarity on Sino-American trade discussions and digested a mixed set of economic data from China.

The Hang Seng Index had added 0.2% to 28,851.39. Offshore oil producer CNOOC rose 3.8% as Brent crude futures pointed to a fourth consecutive day higher. Ping An Insurance Group climbed 1.6%, adding to a 1.6% advance on Wednesday following a jump in 2018 profit. China Life Insurance slipped 0.9% despite reporting a 22.4% increase in accumulated premium income for January and February.

Diversified conglomerate Swire Pacific fell 0.5% after reporting a 9% decline in 2018 net profit amid weaker revaluation gains for its property division.

Markets awaited fresh details on U.S.-China trade relations, two weeks after a deadline to raise import tariffs on Chinese goods was extended by Washington. U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he was in no rush for a trade agreement with China. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet in March, but no dates have been announced.

"Even though Trump said he is not in a hurry to reach a deal with China, his tone was still positive. So markets are not worried," said Daniel So, a strategist at CMB International Securities.

Meanwhile, in the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.2%, while the ChiNext index of smaller companies listed in Shenzhen skidded 2.6%.

With A-share markets retreating on Thursday, particularly the ChiNext index, buying sentiment for technology stocks will likely be affected, So said.

Smartphone component suppliers AAC Technologies Holdings and Sunny Optical Technology Group shed 3.2% and 3.3%, respectively, in Hong Kong. Q Technology Group was down 4.2%.

Data released on Thursday showed China's industrial output grew 5.3% in January and February, slower than the 5.5% pace predicted by analysts in a Reuters poll. Industrial output had risen 5.7% in December.

Meanwhile, retail sales climbed 8.2% over the first two months of the year, ahead of the 8.1% reading analysts polled by Reuters were expecting.

Shares of Chinese interactive advertising company Doumob surged 53.7% in their trading debut in Hong Kong after the company raised HK$81.1 million ($10.3 million) from an initial public offering.

China Southern Airlines rose 3.3% after reporting a 10.6% increase in passengers carried during February.

Aircraft leasing company BOC Aviation declined 3.1% despite reporting a 5.8% increase in 2018 profit and a 23% jump in revenue.

Luggage maker Samsonite International jumped 5.4% following an 8.8% increase in revenue for 2018. Net profit for the year fell 29.2% from a year ago.

Glorious Property Holdings jumped 15.3% after saying it expects to have swung to a profit in 2018.

-- Amy Lam

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