HONG KONG, March 30 Hong Kong shares are seen
starting lower on Friday, poised for their first monthly loss in
four, but a strong rally this year still leaves the Hang Seng
Index on the verge of its best quarter since June 2009.
Sun Hung Kai Properties will be in focus after
Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption on
Thursday arrested its chairmen, brothers Raymond and Thomas
Kwok, on suspicion of corruption, the company said.
China CITIC Bank Corporation Ltd, China Railway
Group Ltd, CSR Corporation Ltd and Guangzhou
Automobile Group Co Ltd are among a clutch of
companies reporting corporate earnings on Friday.
On Thursday, the China Enterprises Index of the top
mainland listings in Hong Kong lost 1.6 percent, while the Hang
Seng Index slipped 1.3 percent, but bounced off the day's
lows at 20,720, also the low on March 7.
The Hang Seng Index is down 4.9 percent this month, but up
11.8 percent this quarter. The China Enterprises Index is down
10.9 percent in March, poised for its worst monthly showing
since last September, reducing its gains on the quarter to 6
Short selling interest in Hong Kong accounted for 11 percent
of total turnover on Thursday, according to traders. Turnover
stayed weak, at some 11 percent below average.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was down 0.6
percent and South Korea's KOSPI was down 0.3 percent at
FACTORS TO WATCH:
* Bank of China Ltd, the country's No.4 lender,
reported a 19 percent rise in 2011 net profit on Thursday,
beating analyst expectations despite concern over bad loans as
China moves to steer its economy towards a soft landing.
* Industrial and Commercial Bank of China reported
an increase in non-performing loans on Thursday alongside
stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, pointing to
possible worsening credit quality as China's economy slows.
* Chinese oil major PetroChina Co Ltd reported a
26 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profit on Thursday,
lagging forecasts, as strong upstream gains were offset by
massive losses at its refining segment.
* China's Zijin Mining Group Co Ltd
plans to spend 5.5 billion yuan ($872.19 million) for
acquisitions, the bulk of which will be overseas gold and copper
assets, the company's chairman said on Thursday.
* Italian fashion power house Prada is pushing
ahead with its retail expansion plans after a burgeoning army of
wealthy Asian buyers helped it beat forecasts with a 72 percent
rise in full-year profit.
* China COSCO Holdings Ltd , the
country's top shipping conglomerate, posted a record net loss of
10.5 billion yuan ($1.7 billion) for 2011, dented by higher fuel
costs and slumping freight rates.
* Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, billionaire Li Ka-shing's
ports-to-telecoms flagship company, beat expectations by
doubling its 2011 earnings, driven by extraordinary gains from a
spinoff and higher contributions from its infrastructure and
(Reporting by Clement Tan and Farah Master; Editing by Jonathan