Hong Kong stocks close 0.75% higher

Hong Kong stocks rose 0.75 percent Wednesday following another record close for the Dow on Wall Street and despite data showing China had recorded a rare trade deficit in March.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index climbed 164.22 points to end at 22,034.56 on turnover of HK$59.34 billion ($7.66 billion).

China's customs agency said Wednesday exports climbed a below forecast 10.0 percent last month, and imports jumped a bigger-than-expected 14.1 percent, while the country saw a trade deficit of $880 million. Economists had tipped a surplus of $14.7 billion.

A day earlier officials said inflation had come in below estimates, which analysts said indicates ongoing weakness in the world's number two economy, still struggling to recover from slower growth last year.

Haitong International analyst Yifan Hu said the latest figures showed more volatility in indicators, adding it was likely to continue to remain relatively volatile in the months ahead, with an overall trend of gradual improvement.

Some chips benefited from bargain buying after recent losses. China Life, the country's largest life insurer, jumped 4.2 percent to HK$20.95, while conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa surged 4.2 percent to HK$82.00.

Hutchison's parent Cheung Kong closed up 1.7 percent at HK$114.00.

Henderson Land, Hong Kong's third largest property developer by market capitalisation, closed up 1.1 percent at HK$53.70.

Chinese shares ended flat. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.02 percent, or 0.35 points, to 2,226.13 on turnover of 71.1 billion yuan ($11.5 billion).

"A slew of other economic data have yet to be released, so investors may want to stay on the sidelines for those cues to have a better gauge of the health of China's economy," Shenyin Wanguo Securities analyst Li Xiaoxuan told Dow Jones Newswires.

The government will next week announce other economic indicators, including gross domestic product for the first quarter.

Concerns over a bird flu outbreak in China saw Merro Pharmaceutical gain 3.97 percent to 7.34 yuan while Shandong Lukang Pharmaceutical climbed 1.64 percent to 5.57 yuan.

Brokerages fell on profit-taking, with China Merchants Securities losing 2.93 percent to 11.92 yuan and Sinolink Securities dropping 2.05 percent to 14.84 yuan.

Liquor makers were up. Shanxi Xinghuacun Fen Wine Factory jumped 6.95 percent to 31.71 yuan while Kweichow Moutai gained 3.89 percent to 169.96 yuan.