Hong Kong shares edged up today, helped by energy shares which outperformed as oil prices firmed although caution ahead of the month-end and another euro zone summit kept investors largely on the sidelines.
The Hang Seng index was up 0.2 percent by the midday trading break, tracking gains for other Asian indexes. It is poised for a small gain for the month as the benchmark recovers from May's 12 percent slide, but is down 6.4 percent this quarter.
On the mainland, the CSI300 was little changed while the Shanghai Composite was down 0.1 percent. Mainland stock markets have underperformed Asia this month as China's domestic retail investors have remained cautious about the government's steps to boost growth.
Caution ahead of yet another summit of EU leaders, the 20th since late 2009, gave investors little reason to make big bets even though valuations for the Hong Kong and China markets were relatively low.
"I'm afraid you cannot have too much hope for the summit. All you can hope for is a narrowing of difference between Germany and the others," said Norman Chan, head of investments at Calibre Asset Management in Hong Kong which invests in funds.
"The European debt crisis is having ripple effects on global growth and while the top lines for Chinese companies should be ok, the problem is still profit-margins," said Chan.
The MSCI China, the most popular benchmark against which China portfolio managers measure performance, is trading at a multiple of 8.2 times forward earnings, the lowest since last summer's sell-off and a third below its average over the past decade, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Chinese cement companies were weaker today following a profit-warning from China Resources Cement Holdings which sent its shares down as much as 5 percent. CNBM fell 4.2 percent while Anhui Conch was down 2.6 percent. ( C) Reuters