Hong Kong shares may start lower, earnings in focus

HONG KONG, March 26 Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:08am GMT

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HONG KONG, March 26 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares may start lower on Tuesday, returning some of Monday's gains on fears the Cyprus bailout could serve as a template for a restructuring of the euro zone banking sector.

Earnings will stay in focus, with the three largest Chinese airlines, Air China, China Eastern and China Southern, along with Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of China, among companies due to post 2012 results.

Haitong Securities, Hong Kong property developer Cheung Kong Holdings and conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment and Chinese property developer Evergrande are other notable releases.

The Hang Seng Index closed up 0.6 percent at 22,251.2 on Monday. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong rose 0.8 percent.

Elsewhere in Asia on Tuesday, Japan's Nikkei was down 0.5 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was flat at 0100 GMT.

FACTORS TO WATCH:

* Sinopec Corp, Asia's largest refiner, will strive to lower its petrochemical production costs and optimize its product mix to meet the threat of cheap rival U.S. supply in the future, a top executive said.

* Chinese sportswear group Li Ning Co Ltd reported on Tuesday a steeper-than-expected 1.98 billion yuan ($318.8 million) loss for 2012, its first annual loss since it listed in 2004, hit by inventory charges and fierce competition from domestic and foreign brands.

* Belle International Holdings Ltd, China's top footwear retailer by market value, posted a 2.3 percent rise in 2012 profit, its slowest profit growth since 2008, as a weaker economy cut consumer spending and higher wages raised costs.

* GOME Electrical Appliances Holding, backed by private equity firm Bain Capital, posted a 596.6 million yuan loss in 2012, its first yearly loss since listing in 2004, as slower economic growth, rising costs and losses in its e-commerce business took a toll.

* Henderson Land Development Co Ltd said its 2012 net profit rose 28 percent to HK$7.1 billion.

* Chinese state-owned insurer People's Insurance Company (Group) of China Ltd (PICC) said its 2012 net profit rose 32 percent to 6.8 billion yuan.

* China Rongsheng Heavy Industries Group Holdings Ltd won its first orders to build two jack-up rigs worth more than $360 million in Singapore as it makes further inroads into offshore engineering.

* China Construction Bank's ratio of non-performing real estate loans reached 0.98 percent at the end of 2012, Chief Executive Wang Hongzhang said on Monday.

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