Hong Kong shares may test August 2011 highs

HONG KONG Tue Dec 18, 2012 8:11pm EST

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HONG KONG Dec 19 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares could test August 2011 highs on Wednesday, buoyed by strong Wall Street gains on elevated hopes of imminent progress on a deal that would avoid painful cuts and tax hikes that could hurt the U.S. economy.

China International Marine Containers (Group) Co Ltd is expected to make its trading debut on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Hang Seng Index slipped 0.1 percent, while the China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong edged up 0.1 percent.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was up 1.3 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.5 percent at 0054 GMT.

FACTORS TO WATCH:

* Europe-focused retailer Esprit Holdings Ltd warned on Tuesday it may post a loss for the six months ended December due to worse-than-expected operating results, as it grapples with weakening demand in the euro zone and faces an uphill battle to revive its brand. [ID: nL4N09S32K]

* China Shenhua Energy Co Ltd recently talked to Whitehaven Coal about taking an equity stake in the Australian miner in return for some coal assets and was told to come back with a full takeover offer, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

* The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) stepped into the currency market late on Tuesday, selling HK$4.42 billion ($570 million) in Hong Kong dollars as the local currency repeatedly hit the strong end of its permitted trading range.

* The United States on Tuesday pressed forward with plans to slap punitive duties on wind turbine towers from China, keeping up friction on the clean energy front as it welcomed a high-level Chinese delegation for trade and economic talks.

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