Hong Kong stocks end 0.17% higher

Hong Kong shares ended up 0.17 percent on Monday, in line with a regional advance and despite data pointing to a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing growth in February.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index added 37.64 points to 22,820.08 on turnover of HK$54.60 billion ($7.05 billion).

British banking giant HSBC said mainland manufacturing growth hit a four-month low in February but remained positive, noting that the world's second-biggest economy was still recovering slowly.

The preliminary purchasing managers' index (PMI) stood at 50.4 for the month, down from a final 52.3 in January, HSBC said. The figure was seasonally adjusted to take account of the Lunar New Year holiday that fell in the middle of the month. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Liao Qun, a Hong Kong-based economist with Citic Bank International, said weaker manufacturing activity in February may have suggested the domestic rebound was unstable, but the overall recovery trend remained intact.

Bargain-hunting after the market lost 2.3 percent in the previous two sessions also helped offset the Hong Kong government's Friday announcement of more measures to cap property prices.

But Sun Hung Kai Properties dropped 1.3 percent to HK$117.70 and Henderson Land fell 0.7 percent to HK$53.00.

Flag carrier Cathay Pacific rose 2.1 percent to HK$14.70 after falling 5.3 percent last week, while footwear retailer Belle increased 1.0 percent to HK$14.60 following a 21.2 percent dive Thursday and Friday on weak earnings guidance.

And Sinopec closed up 0.5 percent at HK$8.80 after China raised petrol and diesel prices from Monday.

Chinese shares closed up 0.50 percent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 11.66 points to 2,325.82 on turnover of 77.6 billion yuan ($12.5 billion).

Investors brushed off the PMI data and cheered weekend media reports that China's securities regulator may soon let foreign investors place more yuan funds held offshore into Chinese shares.

"The favourable news that more foreign investment could be allowed into the domestic stock market offset the impact of weaker manufacturing activity," Haitong Securities analyst Zhang Qi told Dow Jones Newswires.

Founder Securities jumped 5.87 percent to 5.95 yuan, Sinolink Securities rose 1.59 percent to 17.21 yuan and Industrial Securities gained 1.48 percent to 12.32 yuan.

Energy firms were also higher after the fuel price move. Sinopec gained 2.72 percent to 7.17 yuan, while PetroChina edged up 0.33 percent to 9.01 yuan.