Hong Kong stocks rally as police clear more protest barricades

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(Oct 14): Hong Kong stocks rose, with the benchmark index erasing losses, as police cleared more pro- democracy protest barricades in the city’s business hub.

Wharf Holdings Ltd., a property company that gets more than half its revenue in Hong Kong, jumped 1.8 percent as developers led the advance. Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd., which had shut some of its shops in Hong Kong amid protests, advanced 2.3 percent. China Resources Power Holdings Co. climbed 3 percent, the biggest gain on the Hang Seng Index. Agile Property Holdings Ltd., which yesterday plunged the most since October 2011, climbed 3 percent.

The Hang Seng Index gained 0.8 percent to 23,318.43 as of 11:14 a.m. in Hong Kong after dropping as much as 0.4 percent. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index added 0.8 percent to 10,362.70. This morning, hundreds of police rushed makeshift barriers blocking key thoroughfare Queensway, pulling down tents and bamboo obstacles.

“Customers are asking whether now is the time to buy after seeing news about police removing the barricades,” said William Fung, investment manager at Tanrich Securities Co. “It’s time to reopen the roads.”

Protesters didn’t seek to stop removal operations. The police earlier today cleared parts of Causeway Bay, a popular shopping district, after reopening seven sections of roads yesterday.

As of yesterday, the Hang Seng Index had fallen 2.3 percent since police used tear gas to try to disperse tens of thousands of protesters on Sept. 28, which led to the blocking of traffic on several main roads.

Shares also rose after the People’s Bank of China cut the rate it pays lenders on 14-day repurchase agreement for the second time in a month, helping lower borrowing costs.

Relative Value

The Hang Seng Index traded at 10.6 times estimated earnings yesterday compared with 15.6 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Uncertainty about China’s economic growth and U.S. interest-rate policy helped drag the Hong Kong gauge down 8.6 percent from this year’s high through yesterday.

“Hong Kong is very sensitive to the global situation and has been dragged by global rout and the occupy central protests,” Sam Hsieh, a fund manager at Fuh Hwa Securities Investment Trust Co., said by phone from Taipei. “With the worst over for Hong Kong protests, declines are likely muted.”

Futures on the S&P 500 gained 0.6 percent today.