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Hong Kong stocks gain 0.16%

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Hong Kong shares closed 0.16 percent higher Friday on bargain-buying and following better-than-expected Chinese trade and inflation data.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index gained 38.16 points to end at 23,215.16 on turnover of HK$65.74 billion ($8.48 billion) on the last day of trade before a long Lunar New Year weekend. The market will reopen on Thursday.

The gains follow a sharp retreat in recent days after the index hit a 21-month high on Monday.

"This is a long-awaited yet healthy correction similar to the one we had in November, after which the market resumed its uptrend," said Jackson Wong, an investment manager at Tanrich Securities.

"We've already seen some bargain-hunting."

Dealers cheered data showing China's trade surplus rose a more-than-expected 7.7 percent in January, thanks to an improvement in exports and imports.

The $29.2 billion surplus beat a median $26.6 billion forecast of economists in a Dow Jones Newswires survey.

Customs said exports surged 25.0 percent to $187.4 billion, while imports climbed 28.8 percent to $158.2 billion.

Later in the day the National Bureau of Statistics said inflation in January slowed to 2.0 percent -- in line with expectations -- from a seven-month peak of 2.5 percent in December.

Macau casino giant Sands China rose 0.8 percent to HK$36.40 after diving 5.7 percent between Wednesday and Thursday, while Galaxy Entertainment rebounded 3.9 percent to HK$33.55 and SJM Holdings jumped 7.6 percent to HK$20.50.

Mainland developers also rebounded, with China Overseas Land rising 0.7 percent to HK$22.05 and China Resources Land gaining 0.5 percent to HK$21.25.

Chinese shares closed up 0.57 percent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 13.87 points to 2,432.40 on turnover of 99.0 billion yuan ($15.9 billion).

The index rose 0.55 percent for the week and has gained 7.20 percent so far this year.

Auto makers ended up after an industry group said Thursday domestic vehicle sales surged 46 percent in January.

SAIC Motor jumped 7.39 percent to 18.46 yuan, Great Wall Motor gained 5.81 percent to 29.86 yuan and Guangzhou Automobile Group rose 3.11 percent to 6.97 yuan.

Metals stocks were higher on bargain hunting, with Jiangxi Copper rising 2.22 percent to 27.19 yuan while Zhuzhou Smelter adding 0.95 percent to 8.49 yuan.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130208/hong-kong-stocks-gain-016