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Hong Kong stocks end 1.96% higher

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Hong Kong shares jumped 1.96 percent on Thursday, in line with a regional advance, after the Dow on Wall Street finished at a more than five-year high.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 443.26 points to 23,020.27 on turnover of HK$86.86 billion ($11.21 billion), its second-biggest percentage gain of the year so far.

The Dow ended at its highest level since October 2007 after reports showed US pending home sales rebounded sharply in January to the highest level in almost three years.

Also, durable goods orders in January surged 1.9 percent, suggesting business confidence in the economy in upcoming months. The Dow jumped 1.26 percent, while the S&P 500 rose 1.27 percent and the Nasdaq added 1.04 percent.

Dealers were also given a lift after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said it would preserve the integrity of the eurozone, reasserting its commitment to buy up bonds of under-pressure countries.

The announcement came as welcome relief to markets after Italy's weekend poll deadlock raised fears of a return to Europe's debt crisis.

Ben Kwong, chief operating officer at KGI Asia, said he was "optimistic about market direction in March".

"The selloff earlier this week was mainly driven by negative newsflow from overseas, but a strong Italian bond auction suggests sentiment has quickly stabilised," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

Rome successfully sold 6.5 billion euros' worth of treasury bonds, providing evidence for now that it can borrow cash to pay its own bills.

Citic Pacific jumped 7.6 percent to HK$11.92, China Overseas Land closed up 3.3 percent at HK$23.55, and China Resources Land added 3.7 percent to HK$22.65.

Chinese shares closed up 2.26 percent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 52.37 points to 2,365.59 on turnover of 115.9 billion yuan ($18.6 billion).

Property developer Vanke, which is listed on China's other stock exchange in Shenzhen, on Wednesday reported 30.4 percent annual growth in net profit for 2012, giving a lift to other real estate firms.

Cinda Real Estate approached its 10 percent daily limit to end at 4.54 yuan, Gemdale gained 3.72 percent to 7.25 yuan and Poly Real Estate rose 3.55 percent to 12.82 yuan.

Brokerages rose on media reports that China is considering new rules that would widen their revenue base.

Founder Securities surged 10 percent to 6.77 yuan, Everbright Securities advanced 5.21 percent to 15.35 yuan and China Merchants Securities rose 3.78 percent to 14.29 yuan.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130228/hong-kong-stocks-end-196-higher-0