Hong Kong shares seen steady, China banks in focus

HONG KONG, July 22 Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:46am BST

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HONG KONG, July 22 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares are expected to start steady on Monday, with the Chinese banking sector in focus after China's central bank removed controls on bank lending rates.

However, the People's Bank of China left a ceiling on deposit rates unchanged at 110 percent of benchmark rates, avoiding for now what many economists see as the most important step Beijing needs to take to free up interest rates.

Last Friday, the Hang Seng Index ended up 0.1 percent at 21,362.4 points. The China Enterprises Index of the leading Chinese listings in Hong Kong slipped 0.5 percent. Last week, they rose 0.4 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

Elsewhere in Asia at 0030 GMT, Japan's Nikkei was up 0.8 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.4 percent.

FACTORS TO WATCH:

* China's moves to liberalise its currency have been courageous given the economic risks, and next areas for reform include land policy, state-owned industries and taxation, the official Xinhua news service said in a commentary published on Sunday.

* China's finance minister denied that the world's second-largest economy was entering a crisis period, adding that he believed growth could even accelerate, as quoted by the official Xinhua news service in an interview.

* Hutchison Whampoa Limited, controlled by Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, said on Saturday it is conducting a strategic review of its Hong Kong supermarket chain ParknShop.

* China raised its retail ceiling price for gasoline by 325 yuan ($53 ) per tonne and that of diesel by 310 yuan from Saturday, energy consultancy ICIS reported, the largest price change under a new pricing mechanism started in March.

* Chinese regulators are conducting an audit of China Resources Group, a power to real estate conglomerate and parent of China Resources Power, the official Xinhua news agency said on Friday, citing the state-asset supervisory agency.

* CITIC Securities Co Ltd , China's biggest brokerage, posted a 6-percent fall in its first half net profit due to market volatility and the suspension of the local initial public offering market, the company said in a preliminary earnings report on Friday.

* Sinopharm Group Co Ltd said on Monday that it would subscribe for 74.48 million new A shares of Shenzhen Health Mineral Water Co for 1.94 billion yuan, raising its stake in the unit to 51 percent from 38.33 percent.

* ZTE Corporation said trading in its shares would remain suspended on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange until a decision is made whether to proceed in relation to an A share option.(Reporting by Clement Tan and Donny Kwok; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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