HONG KONG Feb 1 Hong Kong shares could start higher on Friday, ahead of the release of data that is likely to show China's economy expanded at its fastest pace in nine months.
The median forecast of 14 economists polled by Reuters put China's official purchasing managers index (PMI) at 50.9 for January, up from December's 50.6.
On Thursday, the Hang Seng Index shed 0.4 percent from Wednesday's 21-month closing high to end at 23,729.5 points, leaving the benchmark with a gain of 4.7 percent for the month of January. It has risen 0.6 percent so far this week.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was up 0.3 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was down 0.2 percent at 0041 GMT.
FACTORS TO WATCH:
* China will draw up policies aimed at speeding up the transfer of rural land as part of efforts to improve efficiency and promote large-scale commercial farming, China National Radio said, citing a major policy document issued on Thursday.
* Global air travel demand growth will slow again this year, but freight markets will recover from a decline in 2012, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Thursday. IATA's members include major airlines such as Air France KLM , British Airways, Delta and Air China .
* The world's largest trading house Glencore is fast turning itself into a Russian oil trade leader from an outsider by mending fences in just one year with Rosneft, the Kremlin's national energy champion.
* Hotel-casino operator Wynn Resorts Ltd, parent of Wynn Macau Ltd on Thursday posted a quarterly profit that was below Wall Street's estimates as its share of the Macau market declined.
* PCD Stores (Group) Ltd said its controlling shareholders have agreed to sell a 39.53 percent interest of the Hong Kong-listed firm to Beijing Wangfujing International Commercial Development Co Ltd's wholly-owned Belmont Hong Kong Ltd for for HK$1.997 billion, giving rise to an obligation for Belmont to make a mandatory general offer for all the outstanding shares PCD Stores. Completion of the deal is subject to approval by Chinese authorities.
* China Power International Development Ltd said it expected a substantial increase in net profit attributable to equity holders for 2012 due to a big rise in hydropower generation and the carryover effect of the upward tariff adjustments to the on-grid tariff of coal-fired power generation from the previous year.
* Fufeng Group Ltd said it expected to register a notable decrease in net profit for 2012 due to a lower gross profit margin as the average selling price of its main product monosodium glutamate fell and an increase in interest expenses.
* Foxconn International Holdings Ltd said it would form a 51 percent-owned joint venture with RadioShack Corporation to jointly distribute consumer electronics products in Greater China.(Reporting by Clement Tan and Donny Kwok; Editing by Richard Pullin)
Our top photos from the last 24 hours.