HONG KONG Jan 18 Hong Kong shares may start slightly higher on Friday before a slew of Chinese data due later in the day that could buttress expectations of a recovery in the world's second-largest economy.
China's economy could rebound to 7.8 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2012, its first quarterly rise in eight. December data for housing prices, urban investment, industrial output and retail sales are also expected.
On Thursday, the Hang Seng Index closed down 0.1 percent at 23,339.8 after earlier testing chart resistance at 19-1/2 month highs at about 23,500. This level has stymied index gains for more than two weeks. On the week, the benchmark is now up 0.3 percent.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was up 2.2 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.6 percent at 0041 GMT.
FACTORS TO WATCH:
* Medical device maker Stryker Corp said it will buy Hong Kong-based Trauson Holdings Co Ltd for $764 million in an all-cash deal, to expand in one of the fastest-growing markets for orthopaedic products in China. Stryker will pay HK$7.50 ($0.97) for every share of Trauson.
* Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said its freight traffic rose for the fourth consecutive month in December, up 3.4 percent year-on-year, driven by a nearly full freight schedule and the addition of Sri Lanka as a freighter destination.
* Haitong Securities , China's second-largest listed brokerage, said on Thursday its 2012 net profit attributable to shareholders fell around 2.5 percent.
* ANTA Sports Products Ltd said it will continue to partner with the Chinese Olympic Committee extending its partnership from 2013 to 2016, in a move that can make the ANTA brand even more popular.
* Prince Frog International Holdings Ltd said its substantial shareholder Xie Jinling has agreed to sell 70 million existing shares of the personal care and household hygiene products maker at HK$3.15 each in a share placement, reducing his stake in the company to 15.81 percent from 22.76 percent.
* Shirble Department Store Holdings (China) Ltd said it expected a substantial decrease in net profit for the six months ended in June 2012 due to an increase in operating cost and rental expenses, a decrease in sales amid economic slowdown, and a drop in commission income from concessionaire sales amid competition in retail businesses in Shenzhen.
* COSCO Pacific Ltd said it planned to issue U.S dollar guaranteed notes to fund its capital investment for expansion of its terminal and container leasing businesses, and to repay debt.(Reporting by Clement Tan and Donny Kwok; Editing by Chris Gallagher)