Hong Kong, Shanghai shares end higher

HONG KONG, March 18, 2011 (AFP) - Hong Kong shares ended higher on Friday after the Group of Seven rich nations agreed to a joint currency intervention to stop the yen's rise while bargain hunters moved in after big losses.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index edged up 15.80 points to 22,300.23 on turnover of HK$88.88 billion ($11.40 billion).

The market fell more than three percent over the week as dealers nervously watched events in Japan where crews are struggling to avert a meltdown at a plant crippled by last week's earthquake and tsunami.

"Trading sentiment remains cautious as investors remain concerned over the nuclear crisis in Japan," Daniel So, analyst of Sun Hung Kai Financial, told Dow Jones Newswires.

The Group of Seven industrialised nations agreed Friday on joint intervention to knock back an unwelcome rise in the yen, providing relief to the shattered Japan economy and boosting regional stock markets.

Investors were also given a lift by a 1.39 percent gain on the Dow in New York, its biggest point and percentage gain in two weeks.

Conglomerate Hutchison rose 0.1 percent to HK$84.85 after a 4.8 percent loss Thursday while China Mobile was up 0.9 percent at HK$69.85 after falling 2.6 percent.

Chinese property developer China Overseas Land gained 6.5 percent to HK$14.10 after posting a 66 percent rise in net profit last year.

Chinese shares closed up 0.33 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index, which covers both A and B shares, added 9.59 points to 2,906.89 on turnover of 127.5 billion yuan ($19.3 billion).

"The strength in other Asian markets boosted sentiment in the A-share market. However, any rebound is likely to be limited as investors remain cautious on Japan's ongoing radiation leaks and rising global oil prices," Gold State Securities analyst Li Lei said.

The market's rise was capped by renewed concerns that the central bank could again raise interest rates or the amount of money banks are required to keep in reserve as it battles high inflation.

Property developers led the gains as government data Friday showed more cities seeing a softening of housing prices compared to the previous month.

The figures could mean Beijing will hold off any further measures to rein in prices in the near term, analysts said, after a series of measures over recent months.

Property developer Gemdale gained 2.3 percent to 6.59 yuan, while Poly Real Estate climbed 2.0 percent to 12.66 yuan.

Brokerages advanced on bargain hunting. Huatai Securities jumped 3.7 percent to 14.16 yuan and Haitong Securities rose 2.6 percent to 10.16 yuan.

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