By Laura He, MarketWatch
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Hong Kong stocks closed higher on Friday, the first trading day of 2015, as mainland Chinese property shares rallied amid expectations that China might loosen monetary policy further in the new year to boost growth.
The Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -1.45% advanced 1.1%, with the Hang Seng China Enterprises /zigman2/quotes/210598031/delayed CN:160462 -1.70% , which tracks Hong Kong-listed mainland companies, higher by 2.2%. The gains came despite the release of official data showing further weakness in China’s manufacturing sector.
A day earlier, the government-sponsored version of China’s Purchasing Managers Index slipped to 50.1 in December from 50.3 in November, marking the third straight month of decline.
In the markets, mainland real-estate stocks posted broad-based advances, as analysts said they expect the central bank to continue to inject liquidity into the economy into the new year.
Poly Property Group Co. Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/209766147/delayed HK:119 -1.92% soared 18.8%, China Vanke Co., Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/203851375/delayed HK:2202 -0.55% surged 10.6% and Shimao Property Holdings Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/208719072/delayed HK:813 -3.28% was up 9%. China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205731176/delayed HK:688 -0.74% leapt 8.5%, and China Resources Land Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202417326/delayed HK:1109 -0.92% cracked 7.1% higher.
However, casino shares fell across the board, as Macau’s gambling revenues dropped 30.4% year-on-year in December. Wynn Macau Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200973447/delayed HK:1128 -1.68% was down 3.7%, Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. declined 2.7%, and SJM Holdings Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/203488207/delayed HK:880 -1.73% lost 2.6%.
In other Asian markets, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -0.36% finished up 0.5%, and South Korea’s Kospi Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 -0.16% settled 0.6% higher.
Japan and Shanghai markets were closed on Friday for the extended New Year’s Day holiday.