INTERVIEW-Banks could be obliged to set Libor rates
* Alternatives to Libor to be found for some contracts
HONG KONG Jan 31 Hong Kong shares could trim its January gains with a weaker start at Thursday's open, tracking Wall Street losses after the Federal Reserve said in its latest statement that economic growth had stalled.
At the end of a two-day policy meeting, the Fed also repeated its pledge to keep purchasing securities until employment improves substantially, but indicated the pullback in the U.S. economy was likely temporary.
On Wednesday, the Hang Seng Index climbed 0.7 percent to its highest close since April 27, 2011 at 23,822.1, breaking above technical resistance at around 23,708 that has checked the index since mid-January.
For the month, the Hang Seng Index is currently up 5.1 percent, set for its best monthly showing since it jumped 7 percent in September.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was down 0.3 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was down 0.1 percent at 0041 GMT.
FACTORS TO WATCH:
* China's top luxury watch distributor Hengdeli Holdings Ltd said there had been no material change in its operations and its business continued to operate in a stable manner. Its comments came after a sharp drop in its shares following a report in Next magazine which questioned Hengdeli's network quality in China, saying some of its outlets lacked proper brand management, and also questioned the company's recent fund raising.
* China's Lenovo Group Ltd aims to increase net profit by 20-30 percent in the next few years, Chief Financial Officer Wong Wai Ming told reporters in New Delhi on Wednesday, without giving details. Lenovo is stepping up its overseas expansion in the smartphone business after enjoying solid growth at home in China, as it seeks to offset slowing growth in the traditional PC sector.
* United Company RUSAL Plc said it has reached a multicurrency credit facility agreement of up to $400 million.
* Top Chinese offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC Ltd said it plans to boost spending to increase production by up to 2 percent in 2013, below a five-year average growth target, highlighting the need for acquisitions.
* Huaneng Power International Inc , China's largest independent power producer, completed its sale of a 1.5 billion yuan ($241 million) three-year dim sum bond on Wednesday, a source close to the deal told Reuters.
* Casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp, owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson and the controlling shareholder of Sands China Ltd, on Wednesday posted lower-than- expected fourth-quarter earnings as weak results in Las Vegas dampened a strong performance in Asia.
* HSBC is hiring a former U.S. deputy attorney general with a background in fighting drug cartels to help the global bank avoid a repeat of lapses in its anti-money-laundering controls that led to a $1.9 billion fine.
* China Shipping Development Co Ltd , an oil and dry bulk shipping firm, said on Wednesday its net profit for 2012 will fall sharply to 0-50 million yuan ($0-8 million) due to sluggish demand and oversupply of ships.
* Air China Ltd sent out a request for proposals last week for aircraft financing of at least $1.0 billion, sources said. One source said the deal size could be roughly $1.8 billion.
* China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd , the country's second biggest mobile carrier, forecasts its 2012 net profit to rise more than 50 percent from 2011 due to an increase in 3G and broadband subscribers.
* China's ZTE Corp , the world's fourth-biggest handset maker, plans to ship more high-end smartphones this year to help increase profit margins and revenue, a senior company executive said on Wednesday.
* Zijin Mining Group Co Ltd said its unit Norton Gold Fields Ltd expected the unaudited before tax loss for six months ended in December to be about A$28 million, compared to net income after tax of about A$5.9 million the same period a year ago, partly due to a write-down of A$11 million to better reflect the net recoverable value of stock-piled inventories.
* Metallurgical Corporation of China said it expected to record a loss for the year ended December 2012 amounting to 7.2 billion yuan, as it made a provision for bad debt on receivables of about 6.9 billion yuan in MCC Huludao Nonferrous Metals Group Co Ltd. It also made provision for the estimated loss under the contract of the Western Australia SINO Iron Ore Project of CITIC Pacific undertaken by the company.
* Angang Steel Co Ltd said it estimated a net loss of about 4.16 billion yuan for the year ended in December 2012 due to global economic downturn, slowdown in domestic economic growth, insufficient market demand, excessive steel production capacity, and intense competition for steel products, and a decline in price of steel products. It also warned delisting risk on its A shares pursuant to the requirements of the Shenzhen listing rules following two consecutive years of loss.
* Chinese brewer Kingway Brewery Holdings Ltd, which recorded a loss in the first half of 2012, said it expected to record a further loss in the second half of the year as its beer sales volume and revenue decreased while material prices increased.
* Sinotruk (Hong Kong) Ltd said it expected to record a substantial decrease in net profit for 2012 as compared to 2011 due to substantial decrease in sales of heavy duty trucks as overall demand of heavy duty trucks in China decreased.
* Datang International Power Generation Co Ltd said its net profit for 2012 is expected to increase by 105-115 percent as compared to a year ago period.
* Maanshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd said it expected to record a net loss of 3.72-3.95 billion yuan for 2012 due to sluggish demand for iron and steel, and a drop in steel products prices.(Reporting by Clement Tan and Donny Kwok; Editing by Richard Pullin)
* Alternatives to Libor to be found for some contracts
Aug 9 The following financial services industry appointments were announced on Thursday. To inform us of other job changes, email to email@example.com
* Investors fear record fines, risk of countersuing regulator