|Blue chips wrap up year with 22.9pc gain
Shares in Hong Kong ended flat today as upbeat Chinese manufacturing data was offset by concerns over gridlock in talks to avert the fiscal cliff in Washington.
The benchmark Hang Seng Index closed 9.67 points lower at 22,656.92 on turnover of HK$28.79 billion in half-day trade ahead of the New Year break. However, the market ended 22.91 percent higher for the year, reversing the 20 percent fall of 2011, AFP reports.
In the last four months of the year the index rallied 16.3 percent as data out of China began to show a pick-up in the world's number two economy, after several quarters of slowing that stoked fears of a hard landing.
HSBC said its final purchasing managers' index of the year hit 51.5, up from 50.5 in November and a fourth straight month of improvement. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the key manufacturing sector, while one below signals shrinkage.
But traders have been spooked by the lack of progress by US lawmakers in reaching an agreement to avoid the deep spending cuts and tax hikes due to take effect on Tuesday and which are expected to tip the country into recession.
If talks fail, President Barack Obama has demanded a vote on his fallback plan that would preserve lower tax rates for families on less than US$250,000 a year and extend unemployment insurance for two million people.
China Life rallied 3.3 percent to HK$25.35 and was the best-performing blue chip, while Citic Securities was up 1.9 percent to HK$19.54 following a 10.7 percent jump Friday.
For the year China property stocks were the big winners. China Overseas Land soared 78 percent and China Resources Land climbed 69.1 percent, while Hong Kong conglomerate Wharf finished up 72.7 percent.
Shares in Shanghai closed up 1.61 percent at a seven-month high. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index jumped 35.88 points to 2,269.13 on turnover of 105.5 billion yuan ($16.9 billion), the highest close since June 20.
The benchmark index has gained 3.17 percent this year but recovered more than 16 percent since it dipped to a near four-year low of 1,949.46 on December 4.
Financial stocks and property developers led the rally.
New China Life Insurance surged by its 10 percent daily limit to 28.82 yuan, China Merchants Bank jumped 6.10 percent to 13.75 yuan and Everbright Securities rose 3.60 percent to 14.10 yuan.
Property developer Gemdale gained 4.15 percent to 7.02 yuan while Poly Real Estate rose 3.34 percent to 13.60 yuan.