HONG KONG Dec 31 Hong Kong shares could end 2012 off 18-month closing highs on Monday as the United States dithered on a deal that will avert a fiscal crisis, with turnover likely weak in a half day session before shutting for the New Year's Day holiday.
Last Friday, the Hang Seng Index crept up 0.2 percent to 22,666.6, its highest closing level since July 8, 2011. It is up 23 percent on the year to date after sinking 20 percent in 2011.
The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong rose 0.3 percent last Friday to its highest close since Aug. 5, 2011. The H-shares index is up 14.5 percent in 2012 after diving 22 percent last year.
Both Japanese and South Korean financial markets are shut on Monday for the New Year holiday. Japan will reopen on Jan. 4, while South Korea will resume trade on Jan. 2.
FACTORS TO WATCH:
* ZTE Corp, China's second largest telecom equipment maker, agreed on Friday to sell 81 percent of an environmental monitoring business for 1.3 billion yuan ($208.5 million), which will contribute to its bottom line in 2013.
* Top Chinese refiner Sinopec Corp has completed building a 800,000 tonnes per year (tpy) ethylene plant in central China, state media reported on Saturday.
* COSCO Pacific Ltd, the container leasing and terminal operating arm of China COSCO Holdings Co Ltd , said on Friday that its parent has approved a proposed $1 billion notes offering by the company.
* China's central bank will use various tools to ensure steady credit growth to support the economy while pursuing financial reform in the face of weakness and uncertainty in the global economic outlook, it said in comments published on Friday.
* China has set the first batch of 2013 rare earths export quotas at 15,501 tonnes, the Ministry of Commerce said on Friday, a volume about half the total of 2012.
* China unveiled tighter Internet controls on Friday, legalising the deletion of posts or pages which are deemed to contain "illegal" information and requiring service providers to hand over such information to the authorities for punishment.
* China Merchant Holdings announced on Sunday it has purchased a 23.5 percent of the issued share capital in Djibouti Ports & Free Zones Authority for $185 million.
* China Taiping Insurance said on Monday that Michael Shen and Sammy Lau have voluntarily resigned as executive directors of the company with effect from Dec. 31.(Reporting by Clement Tan; Editing by Michael Perry)
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