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Monday, March 20, 2017, 16:30

Shares hit a 19-month high as energy stocks surge

By Reuters

SHANGHAI - Hong Kong stocks powered to 19-month closing highs on Monday, as surges in energy and tech shares helped sustain optimism sparked last week by belief the Federal Reserve won't raise US interest rates too aggressively this year.

But an index tracking mainland properties tumbled, after Chinese mainland stepped up real estate curbs in a number of cities, and vowed to restrict lending to the sector.

The Hang Seng index rose 0.8 percent, to 24,501.99, while the China Enterprises Index gained 0.7 percent, to 10,583.98 points.

China Shenhua Energy led gains in the energy sector and lifted market sentiment. Shenhua, one of mainland's top coal miners, surged 16 percent to an 18-month high after it said its 2016 net profit rose 40.7 percent and expected first-quarter net profit to climb at least 50 percent.

Hong Kong's telecom, IT and software shares were also strong, helping offset gloom about the listed Chinese developers.

The Beijing municipal government announced new steps to rein in its booming housing market after the market closed on Friday, joining a growing number of Chinese cities acting to curb property speculation.

Data on Saturday suggested the impact of earlier property cooling steps by many cities may have been short-lived. Chinese mainland's home prices picked up speed again in February after slowing in the previous four months, while sales have surged.

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