Hong Kong shares mount on Christmas Eve

By Anastasia Tomazhenkova: Hong Kong shares mounted in a Christmas Eve half-day session Monday with improved sentiment on Wall Street providing a boost and local property developers gaining on strong sales of apartments.

Stocks also advanced strongly in China, South Korea and Taiwan.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index gained 501.88 points, or 1.8 percent, to close at 28,128.80 in the shortened trading session.

Analysts said the index was likely to remain volatile through the end of the year on uncertainty about the U.S. economy, a key export market.

"Sentiment will remain cautious for the rest of the year and I think most investors are adopting a wait-and-see stance," said Peter Lai, a director at brokerage DBS Vickers.

Markets in Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand are closed for Christmas holiday.

The Hong Kong stock market will be closed for the Christmas holiday on Tuesday and Wednesday and will reopen for a full-day session on Thursday.

Investors were inspirited when it was reported that showed personal spending rose by 1.1 percent in November, the largest amount in 3 1/2 years, easing concerns that the U.S. economy - a vital export market for Asia - would slide into a recession.

An invest in China is to buy Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong. Currently, some of the high quality Chinese state-owned-enterprises and private companies are traded there. In fact, Hong Kong Stock Exchange and Hong Kong Enterprise Growth Market actively encourage Chinese companies to list there, as many high quality private Chinese companies are unable to become a public entity in Chinese domestic stock exchanges due to listing restrictions.

News that U.S. financial institutions, battered by the subprime mortgage crisis, were getting help from foreign investment institutions also buoyed sentiment. On Friday, the Wall Street Joural reported that Merrill Lynch & Co. might get a cash infusion of as much as $5 billion from Singapore's state-owned Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.6 percent Friday to 13,450.7.

Still, investors remained anxious about the outlook for the U.S. economy amid global fallout from the global credit squeeze.