Chinese stocks closed higher on Thursday, led by property and financial shares, as sentiment improved after several major cities lifted home purchasing restrictions and on reports that local governments may potentially buy some unsold homes. Hong Kong shares were also up.

Property shares continued the rally, after reports that China is considering a plan for local governments nationwide to buy millions of unsold homes.

The CSI 300 real estate index and mainland property developers traded in Hong Kong jumped 3.5% and 4.9%, respectively.

Also helping the stock market is a stronger yuan. China's yuan firmed overnight as the U.S. dollar was broadly sold off after a milder U.S. inflation report raised expectations the Federal Reserve will deliver at least two rate cuts this year.

The immediate focus for market participants will be a set of economic indicators, including home prices, retail sales and industrial output, due on Friday.

** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.08% at 3,122.40.

** The blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.39%, with its financial sector sub-index higher by 1.62%, the consumer staples sector up 0.51%, the real estate index up 3.48% and the healthcare sub-index down 0.14%.

** The smaller Shenzhen index ended up 0.29% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 0.29%.

** The Hang Seng index was up 302.82 points or 1.59% at 19,376.53. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index rose 1.93% to 6,871.38.

** Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 1.27%, while Japan's Nikkei index closed up 1.39%.

** At 0747 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 7.2172 per U.S. dollar, 0.01% firmer than the previous close of 7.2176. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Janane Venkatraman and Sohini Goswami )