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Stocks

Hong Kong stocks hit two-week high on Ping An, Tencent

Gauge of Chinese companies listed in city pulled higher by insurers

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares climbed to their highest level in more than two weeks on Tuesday, led by Ping An Insurance Group and Tencent Holdings, amid optimism over tax cuts in the U.S.

The Hang Seng Index rose 0.7% to 29,253.66, its highest close this month. Ping An was the biggest contributor to the index's gains by points as it jumped 4.2%, its first gain in five days.

Social-media major Tencent added 1.8%, U.K.-based lender HSBC Holdings climbed 0.6% and life insurer AIA Group advanced 0.9%. AAC Technologies Holdings and Sunny Optical Technology Group, both suppliers to Apple, halted a string of recent losses by rising 2.6% and 2%, respectively.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of large mainland companies listed in Hong Kong gained 1.1%, with China Pacific Insurance Group adding 2.3% and New China Life Insurance rising 4%.

The performance came alongside upbeat regional markets following positive cues from Wall Street on Monday as confidence grew that U.S. lawmakers will vote in favor of a tax overhaul proposed by President Donald Trump's administration. The Nikkei Asia300 Index of regional companies outside Japan advanced 0.4%.

The advances were also aided by optimism that stocks may find support as the year-end approaches and investors remain optimistic about the prospects for 2018. The Hang Seng Index has risen 33% so far this year, fueled by relatively cheap valuations and strong inflows from China over the stock exchange's trading links with Shanghai and Shenzhen.

The index currently trades at 13.3 times trailing earnings, compared with 14.7 times for the Shanghai Composite and 23.7 times for the S&P 500 Index.

"The low valuation of Hong Kong shares may help the market reach a new record high," said Jackson Wong, analyst at Huarong International Securities in Hong Kong. "There is a downside risk from uncertainties" related to policies from Chinese authorities, "but the market consensus doesn't expect that to happen."

The Shanghai Composite Index and the Shenzhen Composite Index both advanced 0.9%.

Shares of CITIC Securities, a unit of conglomerate CITIC, rose 0.8% in Hong Kong. The brokerage said shareholder CITIC Trust has sold its 18.9 million yuan-denominated A-shares in the company, amounting to a 0.16% stake.

China Merchants Land fell 0.7%. The real estate company said on Monday it agreed to sell a unit with land assets in Foshan city in China for 2.11 billion yuan ($319 million) to a joint venture with property investor Wharf Holdings. Wharf fell 1.9%.

Shunfeng International Clean Energy climbed 3.9% after a subsidiary agreed to sell a U.K.-based unit for 21.96 million pounds ($29.4 million).

-- Carrie Chen

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