The stock market in Hong Kong opened strongly on Thursday morning taking cues from the U.S markets, where all the indices advanced on better than expected economic data, raising hopes of a recovery in the world's largest economy.

On Wednesday, the Dow closed up 153 points or 2.01% at 7,762, the Nasdaq gained 23 points or 1.51% to 1,552, and the S&P 500 added 13 points or 1.66% to finish at 811.

In Asian trading, crude oil is currently up $0.46 at $48.85 a barrel, in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery closed at $48.39 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday, down $1.27 a barrel, after hitting an intraday high of $48.96 and a low of $47.26, after an Energy Information Administration data revealed a build in crude oil stockpiles from last week. U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased for a 23rd time in 27 weeks by 2.84 million barrels to 359.4 million barrels in the week ended March 27, 2009. US crude oil stockpiles rose to a 15-year high.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index opened at 13,963, compared to previous close at 13,519, and is presently trading at 14,047, up 3.89% or 527.57 points.

Forty of the forty-two index components are advancing on positive sentiment that the global economy might be on a recovery path and the worst is over.

Banking stocks are leading the gains. HSBC Holdings is gaining 7.12%, Bank of Communications is advancing 5.88% and Bank of East Asia is adding 3.29%. Other banking stocks are also trading in positive territory.

Insurance stocks are also advancing. Ping An is gaining 5.18% and China Life is advancing 3.53%.

Among resource stocks, Aluminum Corp. of China, or CHALCO, is up 4.65%, CNOOC is gaining 3.30% and Petro China is advancing 4.42%.

Property stocks are also moving higher. The major gainers in property space include with New World Development, Swire Pacific, MTR Corp., Shopping Property, Sino Land and Hang Lung Property.

China-related stocks are also gaining. 3.94%, China Mercantile Holdings is advancing 3.94%, China Overseas is gaining 5.61% and China Overseas is trading at 1.38%.

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