HONG KONG Nov 2 Hong Kong shares could hit a fresh 2012 intra-day high on Friday, tracking Wall Street gains after positive U.S. consumer confidence and private-sector jobs data ahead of the non-farm payrolls report later in the day.
Data from payrolls processor ADP showed U.S. companies added 158,000 workers in October, the fastest pace in eight months. In another encouraging sign, U.S. consumer confidence jumped in October to its highest in more than four years, the Conference Board said.
On Thursday, the Hang Seng Index rose 0.8 percent to 21,821.9, just shy of the current 2012 intra-day high of 21,847.7 on Oct. 26. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong jumped 1.1 percent. This week, they are now each up 1.3 and 2.4 percent.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was up 1.2 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was up 1 percent at 0053 GMT.
FACTORS TO WATCH:
* The Hong Kong Monetary Authority stepped into the currency market for a second time on Thursday by selling HK$2.3 billion ($300 million) in Hong Kong dollars as the local currency repeatedly hit the strong end of its trading range.
* Hong Kong may take further measures to control runaway property prices but the Asian financial centre is likely to avoid steps such as a capital gains tax that would be complicated, Kong Kong's leader, Leung Chun-ying, said on Thursday.
* Air China Ltd , Asia's second-largest airline by market value, said on Thursday the China Securities Regulatory Commission, China's stock market regulator, has approved a 1.05 billion yuan ($168.34 million) private share placement.
* American International Group Inc earned a larger-than-expected profit during the third quarter, due in part to big gains on its investment holdings. AIG's sale of certain securities, including a stake in former subsidiary AIA Group Ltd, as well as higher values of bond holdings, contributed to profits. In a CNBC interview, AIG CEO Bob Benmosche said AIG had time to make a decision on what to do with its remaining stake in the Asian insurer AIA.
* Las Vegas Sands Corp, owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, on Thursday posted lower earnings amid challenges at its Singapore operations and higher costs for properties in Macau. Sands China Ltd, which operates several casinos in Macau, reported revenues rose 36.7 percent to $1.64 billion and net income rose 17.4 percent to $326.7 million.
* Li & Fung Ltd, a manager of supply chains for global retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Target Corp, said it would issue $500 million of perpetual bonds to help fund development and acquisitions.
* Husky Energy Inc, a unit of Hutchison Whampoa , said its quarterly profit rose slightly as higher production at its heavy oil projects in Saskatchewan helped reduce the impact of lower crude oil prices and planned maintenance at its North Atlantic operations.
* Glencore said its closely watched trading operations performed "strongly" in the third quarter, against a more uneven picture for its mines, where strikes and Congo power cuts dampened growth.