Hong Kong stocks end 0.36% higher

Hong Kong shares ended 0.36 percent higher on Thursday thanks to a late rally after HSBC data showed Chinese manufacturing expanded in August for the first time in four months.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 77.67 points to 21,895.40 on turnover of HK$57.31 billion ($7.39 billion).

The market opened in negative territory -- along with the rest of the region -- after minutes from the US Federal Reserve's July meeting provided no new clues about the future of its stimulus programme.

Interest-rate sensitive property and utility shares remained under pressure with Cheung Kong falling 0.7 percent to HK$109.10 -- putting losses so far this week at 5.3 percent. Hong Kong China and Gas, the city's main gas distributor, fell 2.9 percent to HK$18.60.

However, while the uncertainty continues to strain regional stocks and emerging market currencies, HSBC's preliminary China purchasing managers index (PMI) for August came provided some lift.

The bank said its PMI rose to 50.1 in August, compared with a final reading of 47.7 in July.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion from the previous month, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction.

The data -- the first to indicate growth in four months -- come after recent figures showing a pick-up in Chinese trade and tentatively suggest the under-pressure economy may be about to turn a corner.

"This really put a nail in the hard-landing coffin," Parry International Trading Managing Director in Hong Kong Gavin Parry told the Dow Jones Newswires. But he cautioned against too much optimism because new export orders remain weak.

However, Chinese shares closed down 0.28 percent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 5.84 points to 2,067.12 on turnover of 76.0 billion yuan ($12.4 billion).

"There weren't enough funds in the market, while investors chose to speculate in shares of smaller firms," Haitong Securities analyst Zhang Qi told AFP.

Resources led the losses, with Henan Yuguang Gold & Lead down 4.11 percent at 10.72 yuan while Baotou Steel Rare Earth fell 2.99 percent to 29.20 yuan.

Brokerages also lost ground. Southwest Securities shed 1.78 percent to 8.83 yuan and Sinolink Securities dropped 1.14 percent to 12.13 yuan.