Hong Kong shares may open lower, property in focus

HONG KONG Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:01am GMT

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HONG KONG Feb 21 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares are set to open lower, tracking softer markets overseas, with property stocks seen leading the slide following Beijing's latest move to curb frothy real estate markets.

On Wednesday, the Hang Seng Index closed up 0.7 percent at 23,307.41 while the China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong rose 1.4 percent.

Chinese property stocks will be a focus after China's cabinet on Wednesday restated its intention to extend a pilot property tax programme to more cities and urged local authorities again to put price control targets on new homes.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was down 0.47 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI slid 0.51 percent at 0043 GMT.

FACTORS TO WATCH:

* Casino operator MGM Resorts International reported a wider fourth-quarter loss on impairment charges on Wednesday, and as growth in its Chinese unit slowed from a year ago. Revenue from its Chinese unit, MGM China Holdings Ltd, which accounts for about 32 percent of MGM Resorts' overall business, rose 2 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 26 percent growth a year earlier.

* MGM China Holdings Ltd said its 2012 net profit rose 38 percent to HK$4.53 billion.

* Guoco Group Ltd said its first half net profit amounted to HK$3.35 billion.

* ConocoPhillips said it will sell part of its stake in two Western Australia exploration assets to Asia's largest oil producer PetroChina Co Ltd .

* Manulife Financial Corp said it would issue $200 million 2.819 percent subordinated debentures due 2023, raising funds for general corporate purposes and refinancing debt.

* Lenovo Group said Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang is to join its board as an observer, as the world's No. 2 maker of PCs expands its mobile business to tap global demand for smartphones and tablets.

* U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital raised about $69 million from a selldown in Hong Kong-listed Greatview Aseptic Packaging Co Ltd, IFR reported on Wednesday citing sources familiar with the transaction.

* China's top footwear retailer Belle International Holdings Ltd said it anticipates its 2012 net profit to be marginally higher than its 2011 net profit, and its audited net profit for 2012 is anticipated to be at the lower end range of the estimates contained in certain analysts' reports, ranging from 4.29 billion yuan to 4.85 billion yuan.(Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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