HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares headed for a second day of gains on Wednesday, as U.S. equity indexes continued to rebound after a sharp sell-off last week and even as investors remained cautious ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday.
The Hang Seng Index was up 0.8% to 30,068.56 by the noon lunchbreak, poised for its first two-day winning streak this month. Mainland banking heavyweights China Construction Bank (CCB) and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) added 1.9% and 1.7%, respectively. Both also rose on Tuesday after Chinese central bank data showed new yuan-denominated loans surged in January. Casino operator Sands China rose 0.6% ahead of its 2017 earnings report due later on Wednesday. Rival Galaxy Entertainment Group was down 0.9%.
The advances returned the Hang Seng Index back to positive territory this year, as a recovery for global equity markets continued. Investors are now awaiting the U.S. inflation report for January, due later on Wednesday, for further cues on interest-rate changes in the world's largest economy. The Nikkei Asia300 Index rose 0.5%.
"It is too early to tell if the Hang Seng Index will stabilize and stay above 30,000 points now," said Alex Wong, director at Ample Finance Group in Hong Kong. "The market is too volatile now. It is hard to predict what level the Hang Seng Index will be at after two hours, let alone a few days after the holiday."
Wong sees a "slim chance" for a "horrible drop" on Wall Street again, but said losses for the A-share market remain a risk for the Hang Seng Index.
In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.3%, while its Shenzhen counterpart lost 0.2%. The onshore-traded yuan rose 0.1% to 6.3320 against the U.S. dollar. China's financial markets will be closed from Thursday to Feb. 21 for the Chinese New Year holiday, while Hong Kong's markets will be closed from Friday to Monday.
BAIC Motor fell 2.7% in Hong Kong after forecasting a roughly 65% drop in net profit for 2017.
China Southern Airlines rose 0.4% after saying the total number of passengers carried during January rose 2.6% from a year earlier to 10.51 million.
Air China declined 0.8%, trimming gains for the week to 2.7%, after reporting a 2.1% increase in the number of passengers carried in January to 8.59 million.
China Eastern Airlines edged 0.5% higher following a 2% increase in the number of passengers carried in January.
Sportswear-maker Win Hanverky Holdings tumbled 15.8% after saying it expects a 90% drop in 2017 net profit.
Property and infrastructure company Hopewell Holdings rose 1.3% after saying net profit for the July-December period more than doubled to 2.11 billion Hong Kong dollars ($269.7 million).
PICC Property and Casualty Company added 1.1% after saying aggregate premium income for January rose 26.2% to 41.41 billion yuan ($6.53 billion).
SmarTone Telecommunications Holdings fell 2.7% after reporting a 16.6% drop in net profit for the July-December period and a 5.7% decline in service revenue.
Guoan International surged 7.4% after the telecommunications-products trading company said it agreed to buy financial-services company Yicko Securities for HK$420 million in cash and convertible bonds.
-- Amy Lam