China stocks edged up and Hong Kong shares rose on Friday, even as Chinese manufacturing activity expanded at a slower pace in March, while spin-off and listing plans of some internet giants boosted sentiment.
** China's blue-chip CSI 300 Index and the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2% each by the end of the morning session.
** Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index, meanwhile, gained 0.8%, and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index was up 1.1%.
** China's official manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) stood at 51.9, against 52.6 in February, slightly exceeding expectations of 51.5.
** "The PMI indicates China's economic recovery is on track," said Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management. "We witnessed many policy actions to boost confidence ... (which) will help the economy to keep the strong momentum. We think GDP growth may surpass 6% this year."
** Investor sentiment edged up as domestic macro recovery remained on track and top-down government support for the private sector accelerated, Morgan Stanley analysts said in a note.
** However, Ting Lu, chief China economist at Nomura, warned of worsening geopolitical tensions and financial concerns in developed markets. He also cautioned that "property markets have yet to truly recover, and the private sector's confidence has yet to fully return."
** Chinese anime comic gaming companies rose more than 4% to outperform other sectors amid a frenzied tech and media shares rally driven by the launch of Microsoft's ChatGPT.
** Tech giants listed in Hong Kong advanced 0.7%.
** Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com Inc jumped 7% after the company said it planned to spin off its property and industrial units and list them on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
** Alibaba Group climbed nearly 4% after Bloomberg News reported that the tech giant's logistics arm Cainiao Network Technology has started preparations for its Hong Kong initial public offering. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Sonia Cheema)