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Hong Kong shares end 0.14% higher

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Hong Kong shares ended 0.14 percent higher on Monday, adding to a rally at the end of last week, but Chinese insurance firms capped gains after the weekend's deadly Sichuan earthquake.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index added 30.80 points to end at 22,044.37 on turnover of HK$53.70 billion ($6.93 billion).

The rise follows Friday's 2.33 percent jump that was helped by bargain-buying after a tough week that started with worse-than-expected Chinese growth figures.

Saturday's earthquake claimed at least 188 lives and flattened thousands of houses in Sichuan province, which was hit by a huge tremor in May 2008, killing 70,000.

China Life fell 1.9 percent to HK$20.30, while Ping An closed down 0.8 percent at HK$59.60 on concern over increased claims.

"China insurance stocks weighed on the index because of the earthquake in Sichuan, but such impact shouldn't last long," said Castor Pang, head of research at Core Pacific-Yamaichi.

"Instead, post-quake reconstruction may contribute positively to the economy," Pang added.

China West Cement jumped 5.8 percent to HK$1.45 and Chongqing Iron & Steel was up 5.9 percent at HK$1.25.

Among other chips China Unicom rose 4.3 percent to HK$10.70 after saying it added a record 4.33 million 3G subscribers in March.

Chinese shares ended down 0.11 percent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 2.47 points to 2,242.17 on turnover of 95.2 billion yuan ($15.2 billion).

While the impact would not last Hongyuan Securities analyst Tang Yonggang told Dow Jones Newswires that "insurance, leisure and hotel stocks will all be affected".

China Life down 2.55 percent at 17.22 yuan and China Pacific Insurance was off 2.2 percent to 19.74 yuan.

But construction material shares rose on hopes for reconstruction business, analysts said.

Sichuan Road & Bridge jumped 10.0 percent to 7.72 yuan and Chengdu Road & Bridge Engineering was also up 10.0 percent to 10.15 yuan.

Sichuan Shuangma Cement also gained 10 percent to 3.48 yuan.

Other gainers included Lukang Pharmaceutical, which rose 10 percent to 5.49 yuan and Yahgee Modular House, a temporary housing producer, which also gained 10 percent to 7.98 yuan.

dan/ami

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130422/hong-kong-shares-end-014-higher-0