HONG KONG Jan 11 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares could start slightly higher on Friday, ahead of China's December inflation data expected later in the day that is forecast to hit a 7-month high of 2.3 percent.
Economists polled by Reuters also predicted China's producer price index dipped 1.8 percent in December from a year ago, easing from November's annual factory gate deflation of 2.2 percent.
The Hang Seng Index rose 0.6 percent to 23,354.3, its best day since Jan. 2, but failed to close above a 19-month high set last Thursday. It is now up 0.1 percent on the week.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was 1.4 percent higher, while South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.1 percent at 0041 GMT.
FACTORS TO WATCH:
* China's harshest winter in nearly three decades has hit iron ore output and driven up prices just as demand from steel mills revives in a resurgent economy. Imports are at record levels.
* HSBC said its $9.4 billion deal to sell its stake in Chinese insurer Ping An remains on track, and it is not aware of any new information related to the deal that needs to be disclosed. [ID:nASN0001E ]
* Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, the world's largest international cargo airline, is to open its long-delayed HK$5.9 billion ($761 million) new cargo terminal at Hong Kong International airport next month, it said on Thursday.
* Apple Inc's Chief Executive Tim Cook met with China Mobile's Chairman Xi Guohua on Thursday to discuss "matters of cooperation," a China Mobile spokesman said, raising hopes of a deal between the two tech giants.
* Iran has changed the pricing of its term exports of South Pars condensate to China's top refiner, Sinopec Corp, this year, effectively raising the premium on sales of the super light crude to its top client, Chinese industry sources said.
* Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd said its revenue grew 4 percent year-on-year in the third quarter to December thanks to the contribution from new points of sale and mass luxury gem-set jewellery. Its overall same-store sales fell 8 percent due to high base comparison last year and a weak jewellery market in China.
* Cosmetics retailer Sa Sa International Holdings Ltd said its turnover jumped 20.4 percent in the third quarter ended December to HK$2.17 billion and same-store sales grew 12.6 percent. It remains cautiously optimistic about the outlook for the retail sector in the fourth quarter due to forthcoming Chinese New Year celebrations.
* Digital China Holdings Ltd said its chairman Guo Wei-controlled Kosalaki Investments Ltd had agreed to sell 80 million shares to third parties, reducing the shareholding to 6.35 percent from 13.67 percent.
* Chinese diary and nourishment products maker Yashili International Holdings Ltd said it will establish a base milk powder manufacturing facility in New Zealand with annual production capacity of 52,000 tons and total investment amounting to 1.1 billion yuan.(Editing by Stephen Coates)