HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares defied broad losses in Asia, sending the benchmark gauge above 25,000 for the first time since July 2015, as investors snapped up Chinese financials listed in the city despite a retreat for stocks on mainland exchanges.
The Hang Seng Index chalked up a third day of gains, rising 0.5% to 25,015.42. A gauge of mainland companies listed in Hong Kong climbed 1%, with Ping An Insurance Group and China Life Insurance adding at least 2%, while Bank of China (BOC) paced gains for lenders, advancing 1.3%. The gains were accompanied by improved volumes, with turnover on the local stock exchange's main board rising to HK$93.6 billion ($12 billion), the highest in over a month.
Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing ended 0.1% lower after gaining as much as 1.9% earlier on the back of a 20% jump in March quarter net income.
The Shanghai Composite failed to hold on to early gains and finished at seven-month lows after monthly inflation data on Wednesday showed a moderation in producer prices, reaffirming that there has been a loss of momentum in the world's second-largest economy. Asset prices in the mainland have been under pressure amid efforts by authorities to deleverage the economy and control financial risks. The benchmark index closed 0.9% lower to mark its sixth decline in seven sessions. The Nikkei Asia300 Index of some of the most influential companies in the region fell 0.2%.
Chinese markets have lagged their regional peers in recent weeks as worries about tighter liquidity cloud sentiment, even as a market-favored outcome in French presidential elections and some optimism over U.S. tax reforms keep global risk appetite supported. Major U.S. indexes and Germany's benchmark gauge are all near record highs.
"Investors at the moment are ignoring the declines in A-shares with global market sentiment being so positive," said Linus Yip, chief strategist at First Shanghai Securities. "For the Hang Seng Index, so long as it stays above its new support of 24,500, we could see it climb higher."
HSBC Holdings added 0.3% for its sixth consecutive advance. Saudi Arabia's billionaire Olayan family's Olayan Financing is working with the lender for an initial public offering of its bottled water business, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Yuzhou Properties added 2% after it said sales for the group rose 56% in April. Yuexiu Property fell 0.8% despite reporting a 42% jump in April contracted sales.
Sun Art Retail Group tumbled 4% after a 1.5% increase in March quarter profit attributable to shareholders.
Acquisitive conglomerate HNA Holding Group will not submit a bid to buy Germany's HSH Nordbank, German daily Handelsblatt reported, citing a spokesman for HNA, according to Reuters. The company's shares fell 1.9% Wednesday.
Zijin Mining slid 2.3%, extending losses for the month so far to 8% amid declining gold prices. Western Mining said it plans to bid for a 34% stake in Zijin's copper unit for no more than 270.9 million yuan ($39.2 million). Western Mining shares in Shanghai dropped 2.1%.
China Zhengtong Auto Services Holdings jumped 9% after its controlling shareholder bought 2 million shares over Monday and Tuesday.
Skyworth Digital Holdings shed 1.6% after total sales volume fell 9% in April and the TV-maker said net profit for the year ended March 31 likely decreased about 40%.
CNOOC ended 0.1% lower. The offshore producer struck oil-and-gas flows at an exploration well in the western part of the South China Sea, Reuters reported.
--Nimesh Vora and V. Phani Kumar
--Nikkei Markets is a real-time financial news service for South East Asia's markets published by Nikkei NewsRise Asia Pte Ltd, a Nikkei and NewsRise joint venture company. Nikkei Markets provides wide companies coverage in the region, including the Nikkei's Asia300 companies.