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Hong Kong stock index soars 3.2 percent, tracking Wall Street gains

Hong Kong stock index soars 3.2 percent, tracking Wall Street gains

Hong Kong stocks surged Wednesday as traders took cues from overnight gains on Wall Street, pushing banking giant HSBC and Chinese financial companies higher.
The blue chip Hang Seng Index rose 769.09 points, or 3.24 percent, to 24,483.84.
Traders said the local market is likely to stabilize and regain upward momentum on hopes of good corporate earnings next month after Standard Chartered Bank posted better-than-expected results late Tuesday. The bank reported its 2007 pretax profit rose to US$4.04 billion (euro2.68 billion) from US$3.18 billion in 2006.
"Standard Chartered Bank's results showed smaller-than-expected damage from the credit market turmoil. This bodes well for HSBC and other banking stocks," said Francis Lun, a manager at Fulbright Securities Ltd.
HSBC led the blue chip gains Wednesday, rising 3.3 percent to HK$123.60. The global lender accounted for 123.37 points of the gain in the index.
Investors were also cheered by the advance Tuesday on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.9 percent higher overnight at 12,684.92 after IBM Corp. raised its 2008 earnings forecast.
The local market also gained on optimism about the local economy after Financial Secretary John Tsang handed out billions of dollars in tax cuts and other relief measures in his first budget speech Wednesday.
"The cut in salary and property taxes will help boost local consumption and property sales. Developers will be the main beneficiary," said Tung Tai Securities Associate Director Kenny Tang.
Henderson Land rose 4.2 percent to HK$62.45, Cheung Kong ended 3.5 percent higher at HK$118.40 and Sun Hung Kei Properties gained 2.3 percent to HK$138.80.
Chinese financial companies also gained on bargain hunting after recent declines on liquidity concerns in China.
Ping An Insurance rose 8.2 percent to HK$60.60, China Life Insurance was up 6.1 percent at HK$31.50 and China Construction Bank was 6.1 percent higher at HK$5.96.
Turnover totaled HK$99.35 billion (US$12.8 billion; euro8.5 billion), up from HK$68.68 billion Tuesday.
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