The stock market in Hong Kong opened sharply higher and is trading in positive territory on Friday morning, taking cues from Wall Street, where the major indices ended in positive territory led by financial and technology stocks on increasing confidence that the downturn in the economy has slowed down and the economy can begin a recovery sooner-than-expected.

A Commerce Department report showed that housing starts fell 10.8% to an annual rate of 510,000 in March from the revised February estimate of 572,000. Economists had expected starts to slip to 540,000 from the 583,000 originally reported for the previous month. The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell to 610,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 663,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge up 658,000 from the 654,000 originally reported for the previous week. However, continuing claims rose to a new record high. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve said its index of regional manufacturing activity rose to a negative 24.4 in April from a negative 35.0 in March. While a negative reading indicates a contraction in the sector, the index increased by much more than expected.

The Dow closed up 95.81 points or 1.2% at 8,125, the Nasdaq closed up 43.64 points or 2.7% at 1,670 and the S&P 500 closed up 13.24 points or 1.6% at 865.

In Asian trading, crude oil is currently down $0.13 at $49.85 a barrel in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery ended at $49.98 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up $0.73 for the session, amid choppy trading.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index opened strongly higher at 15,946 compared to its previous close of 15,583, and is presently trading at 15,837, up 254.20 points, or 1.63%.

Telecommunications, property, financial and china-related stocks are all trading in positive territory on increasing optimism about a recovery in the global economy.

Among telecommunication stocks, Tencent is advancing 3.18%, Hutchison Whimpoa is gaining 1.14%, China Mobile is adding 1.67% and China Unicom is edging up 0.83%. Manufacturing services provider, Foxconn International, is advancing 6.00%.

Property stocks are also advancing. Sino Land is rising 5.25%, Henderson Land is advancing 4.53% and SHK Property is gaining 3.58%. Other property related stocks such as New World Development, Swire Pacific, Hang Lung Property and Wharf Holdings are also trading in positive territory.

Financial stocks are trading in positive territory. Index mover HSBC Holdings is gaining 2.35%, Hang Seng Bank is adding 1.42%, Bank of East Asia is edging up 1.14% and Bank of Communications is advancing 1.27%. Other major banks are trading higher.

China-related stocks are also seeing buying interest.. China Resources is gaining 2.55%, China Mercantile Holdings is advancing 2.80%. China Shenhua is adding 1.59% and China Overseas is rising 1.66%.

Resource stocks are trading mixed. While Aluminum Corporation of China, or CHALCO, is losing 5.38%, CNOOC is gaining 2.28% and Petrochina is edging up 0.44%.

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