Hong Kong shares set for soft April kickoff

HONG KONG, April 2 Mon Apr 1, 2013 9:01pm EDT

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HONG KONG, April 2 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares could be a little slow to start after a four-day Easter weekend, facing anaemic U.S. data and prolonged weakness in mainland Chinese markets.

Chinese shares fell to their lowest since the start of the year on Monday after an official purchasing managers' survey showed a slower rebound in factory activity than expected.

China's official manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday rose to an 11-month high of 50.9 in March, below a Reuters poll consensus forecast of 52.0.

Last Thursday, the Hang Seng Index closed down 0.7 percent at 22,299.6. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong shed 1.3 percent. They posted their first quarterly loss in three, losing 1.6 and 4.7 percent, respectively.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was down 1.9 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was flat at 0042 GMT.

FACTORS TO WATCH:

* Average home prices in China's 100 biggest cities rose for the 10th straight month in March, a private survey showed, further challenging policymakers attempting to cool record home prices but with mixed results.

* Beijing, Shanghai and another major city in China's southwest will implement strict property cooling measures as part of a central government crackdown on the overheated property market, state news agency Xinhua has said.

* China's crude steel production is expected to rise 2.9 percent to 737 million tonnes in 2013, a senior official with Baoshan Iron and Steel (Baosteel), one of China's biggest steelmakers, said on Monday.

* Toyota Motor Corp and its joint ventures in China sold 75,900 vehicles in the country in March, down 11.7 percent from a year earlier, the Japanese automaker said on Monday. Toyota, which operates car ventures in China with FAW Group and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co , aims to sell 900,000 cars in China this year, up 7.1 percent from a year earlier.

* Users of Tencent Holdings' hugely popular mobile chatting application may have to pay fees in future to satisfy China's three mobile telecom operators, Chinese media quoted a government official as saying on Sunday.

* China Minsheng Banking Corp Ltd , the country's seventh-largest listed bank, said its 2012 net profit rose 35 percent to 37.6 billion yuan.

* Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd , maker of passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, engines and auto parts, said its 2012 profit dropped 73 percent to 1.1 billion yuan.

* Wynn Macau Ltd, the Macau unit of Wynn Resorts , posted a 9 percent rise in 2012 net profit to HK$6.4 billion.

* China Sanjiang Fine Chemicals Co Ltd said it planned to issue short-term bonds with a maturity of up to 2 years, raising general working capital and to repay bank borrowings.

* China Merchants Bank Co Ltd said China Banking Regulatory Commission and China Insurance Regulatory Commission had approved its plan to acquire from Shenzhen Dingzun Investment Advisory Co Ltd a 50 percent equity interest in CIGNA & CMC Life Insurance Co Ltd.(Reporting by Clement Tan and Donny Kwok; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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