Hong Kong shares could start lower, earnings in focus

HONG KONG, March 14 Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:13am GMT

HONG KONG, March 14 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares could post a third straight loss on Thursday ahead of earnings from bellwether companies and with Xi Jinping expected to be formally announced as China's new president.

China Mobile, Ping An Insurance, Swire Pacific and Swire Properties are among the companies due to announce their 2012 final earnings.

The Hang Seng Index slid 1.5 percent on Wednesday and is now down 0.4 percent this year. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong sank 2.3 percent.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was up 0.4 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was down 0.3 percent at 0059 GMT.

FACTORS TO WATCH:

* Dutch semiconductor equipment maker ASM International NV sold a smaller-than-expected stake in its Hong Kong-listed unit, disappointing investors who had hoped a break-up of the firm might create more money for shareholders. ASMI said it had raised 422 million euros ($547 million) by selling 12 percent of ASM Pacific Technology to institutional investors in a share placement, leaving it with a 40 percent stake in the Hong Kong business.

* Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, the world's largest international air cargo carrier, said it does not yet see a lasting recovery in the freight market, after reporting an 83 percent year-on-year drop in profit for 2012.

* Hong Kong home builder Kerry Properties has won an HK$11.7 billion ($1.5 billion) tender for a residential site in the territory's Kowloon district, paying the second highest price on record for a public piece of land.

* Premium menswear brands owner Trinity Ltd said its 2012 profit attributable to shareholders rose 5.2 percent to HK$540 million, boosted mainly by divestment of 30 percent interests of the Salvatore Ferragamo joint ventures. It anticipates the Chinese luxury retail market will enjoy healthy growth in the medium term but may not continue to expand at the 20 percent-plus rates seen previously. For statement, here

* Casino operator Nagacorp Ltd said it would issue 200 million new shares at HK$6.05 each, or 8.3 percent discount to previous close, raising HK$1.2 billion to finance its plan to expand market penetration of its overseas high-premium direct-players programme and the profit sharing formula junket business. For statement, here

* Eternity Investment Ltd said it was in talks with China AU Group Holdings Ltd for subscribing convertible bonds to be issued by China AU but no definitive agreement had yet been reached. For statement clicks here

* Xingda International Holdings Ltd said it expected to record a substantial decrease in net profit for 2012 due to gross profit margin erosion resulting from a decrease in average selling prices of radial tire cords and sawing wires products in China, while an increase in an impairment loss recognised on trade receivables also hit profit. For statement clicks here (Reporting by Clement Tan and Donny Kwok; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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