Hong Kong stocks close 0.30% higher

Hong Kong stocks rose 0.30 percent on Thursday, a third straight gain, as dealers followed another record-breaking performance on Wall Street.

In Hong Kong the benchmark Hang Seng Index climbed 66.71 points to end at 22,101.27 on turnover of HK$57.97 billion ($7.48 billion).

Traders were given a lead from a Wall Street rally fuelled by minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve policy meeting reasserting a commitment to keep easy-money policies in place until the jobs market picks up.

The minutes said: "Many participants... expressed the view that continued solid improvement in the outlook for the labour market could prompt the committee to slow the pace of purchases beginning at some point over the next several meetings."

The March 19-20 meeting came after a February jobs surge, which added 268,000 non-farm payrolls.

But data released last week showed a paltry gain of 88,000 jobs, the slowest growth in nine months and below expectations, leading dealers to bet the Federal Reserve will not be in any hurry to ease up on stimulus.

The Dow rose 0.88 percent and the S&P 500 surged 1.22 percent, with both indexes closing at fresh record highs. The Nasdaq added 1.83 percent.

The index also got a lift from central bank data showing lenders granted a total of 1.06 trillion yuan in new loans last month, up from 620 billion yuan in February, fuelling expectations the ample liquidity could lend support to the economy.

"Investors' worries about China's economic recovery have eased since Tuesday's benign inflation data, which reduced the chances of aggressive tightening," said Alvin Cheung, associate director at Prudential Brokerage.

Chinese coal producer Shenhua Energy closed up 1.1 percent at HK$27.55 and property developer China Resources Land added 1.4 percent to HK$21.80, while consumer conglomerate China Resources Enterprise rose 2.3 percent to HK24.75.

However, China's largest PC maker Lenovo tumbled 5.8 percent to HK$7.09 after researcher IDC said worldwide shipments of personal computers fell 13.9 percent in the January-March quarter.

Chinese shares ended down 0.30 percent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 6.58 points to 2,219.55 on turnover of 62.1 billion yuan ($10.0 billion).

"Recent economic figures are mixed, so investors are not very enthusiastic about trading," Industrial Securities analyst Jiang Shiqing told AFP.

While dealers were boosted by the loans figures, there are still concerns about the economy after China Wednesday posted a rare trade deficit of $880 million for March.

Banks were mixed, with China Citic Bank rising 0.70 percent to 4.32 yuan and China Merchants Bank off 0.40 percent at 12.39 yuan.

Metals shares were hit by profit taking. Aluminium producer Henan Zhongfu Industry lost 3.98 percent to 4.58 yuan, while Jiangxi Copper fell 1.56 percent to 22.09 yuan.

Coal miners fell on reports that the government has ordered companies in 19 sectors to cut production that uses outdated technology.

Shanxi Coking dropped 3.72 percent to 8.28 yuan and Yanzhou Coal Mining fell 2.31 percent to 16.51 yuan.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report --