Hong Kong and Shanghai stocks rallied Friday after China unveiled its most wide-ranging measures to support the country's battered property sector, sending real estate firms soaring.

The move provided some hope for the world's number two economy, which has been dragged by a long-running debt crisis among major developers.

However, the news was not enough to lift the rest of Asia, which was hit by a bout of profit-taking from a recent rally and concerns that bets on a US interest rate cut may have been overdone in the previous session.

Shanghai piled on one percent, having wallowed in negative territory in the morning, while Hong Kong extended a recent advance after Beijing unveiled the plans.

It said it would cut the minimum down payment rate for first-time homebuyers and suggested the government could buy up commercial real estate.

Property and construction accounts for more than a quarter of China's gross domestic product but the real estate sector has been under unprecedented strain since 2020, when authorities tightened developers' access to credit in a bid to reduce mounting debt.

Major companies have teetered since then, while falling prices have dissuaded consumers from investing in property.

The crisis has put huge pressure on leaders to come up with a plan to help the sector and avoid it spreading to other parts of the economy, but most measures have left investors disappointed.

Officials announced the widest-ranging measures yet at a meeting on Friday attended by regulators, representatives of top banks, local governments and the property market.

"Great efforts should be made to promote the handling of commercial housing projects classified as under construction that have been sold and are facing difficulties to deliver," Vice Premier He Lifeng told the meeting, according to state media.

"In cities where there is a large inventory of commercial housing, the government can place orders and purchase some of the commercial housing at reasonable prices as appropriate to use as affordable housing," he said.

No details were provided on how many houses would be bought.

State media also cited the central bank and the National Financial Regulatory Administration as saying they would cut the minimum down payment rate for first-time homebuyers to 15 percent, one of the country's lowest-ever rates.

The rate will be cut to 25 percent for second-home purchases, it added.

Investors welcomed the announcement with open arms. Agile Group soared 23 percent and Fantasia added 8.3 percent, while Sino-Ocean Group and CIFI Holdings each gained more than 12 percent.

Longfor Group added 10 percent and China Vanke piled on 19 percent, having jumped 15 percent and 16 percent respectively on Thursday, according to Bloomberg News.

Friday's news offset data showing a much-slower-than-expected rise in Chinese retail sales that revived worries about the economy.

However, while there were gains in Mumbai, Jakarta and Bangkok, other regional markets struggled.

Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Manila and Wellington all fell, while European markets opened mixed.

That came after all three main indexes in New York fell, having ended at record highs the day before.

Markets had rallied Thursday after a report showing that US inflation had slowed in April fanned hopes the Federal Reserve will cut rates this year, with the first as soon as July.

But warnings about the outlook for prices tempered that optimism and saw traders lower their forecasts to one cut this year, from two tipped on Wednesday.

Three top officials at the US central bank pushed back against talk of an early cut, adding that they wanted to see more evidence that inflation was under control.

Cleveland Fed boss Loretta Mester said "incoming economic information indicates that it will take longer to gain that confidence".

She was joined by New York counterpart John Williams, who said he saw no reason to reduce rates just now, while Richmond boss Thomas Barkin said it would take time to get inflation back to the bank's goal of two percent.

Their remarks were echoed by JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon, who said he was still worried about price rises.

"There are a lot of inflationary forces in front of us," he told Bloomberg Television. "The underlying inflation may not go away the way people expect it to."

Miller Tabak + Co's Matt Maley was confident in the outlook for stocks.

"There is a lot of leeway for the stock market if we do see a short-term pullback soon," he said.

"Put another way, the bulls are still fully in charge right now, and so it will take a significant reversal to stem the tide of the upside momentum."

- Key figures around 0715 GMT -


Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 percent at 38,787.38 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.0 percent at 19,561.38

Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.0 percent at 3,154.03 (close)

London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 8,437.68

Dollar/yen: UP at 155.75 yen from 155.40 yen on Thursday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0867 from $1.0870

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2665 from $1.2670

Euro/pound: UP at 85.78 from 85.76 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.4 percent at $79.54 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: UP 0.6 percent at $83.74 per barrel

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 39,869.38 (close)