Hong Kong shares seen steady ahead of China inflation data

HONG KONG Wed May 8, 2013 8:58pm EDT

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HONG KONG May 9 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares may start steady on Thursday as investors brace for China CPI data due at 0130 GMT that is expected to show subdued growth kept inflation in check in April and depressed producer prices for a 14th consecutive month.

According to a Reuters poll, the annual consumer price index is seen at 2.3 percent, up from 2.1 percent in March, while producer price deflation is forecast at 2.3 percent compared to a year ago, the deepest in six months.

On Wednesday, the Hang Seng Index ended up 0.9 percent at 23,244.4 points, its highest close since Feb. 20. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong climbed 1.5 percent.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was up 0.7 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.4 percent at 0045 GMT.

FACTORS TO WATCH:

* Telecom Italia delayed a decision on Wednesday on whether to seek a merger deal with Hutchison Whampoa , buying more time to win over its divided shareholders.

* Standard Chartered faced a protest from over 20 percent of shareholders over its board structure on Wednesday and warned it could miss this year's revenue target after higher bad debts and falling interest rates hit first-quarter earnings.

* Europe-focused clothing retailer Esprit Holdings Ltd has hired more staff from Inditex to drive its restructuring and implement the kind of fast fashion turnaround on which the larger Spanish rival has built its success.

* Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd said its unaudited revenue for the first quarter of 2013 rose 11 percent to $1.14 billion.

* China Merchants Bank is expected to announce on Wednesday that its President Ma Weihua will retire in June, two banking sources said.

* MGM Resorts International, parent of MGM China Holdings Ltd, said its first quarter earnings per share was $0.01 and revenue rose 3 percent to $2.4 billion and consolidated casino revenue increased 5 percent.

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