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Hong Kong stocks seen lower as easing speculation played down

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 August, 2012, 8:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2012, 3:05pm

Hong Kong stocks are expected to open lower on Friday after China said it is studying how to beef up existing property market curbs and after key players poured cold water overnight on hopes of a new round of US quantitative easing.

China's Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said it is "closely monitoring" the housing market and studying tightening curbs on the  sector to suppress a rebound in home prices, according to an online statement released on Thursday after market close. The harsh tone suggests China could maintain a cautious monetary policy.

Meanwhile, St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard said in an interview with CNBC overnight that the Federal Reserve may not roll out easing measures for the moment because recent economy data showed signs of improvement in the US economy. The minutes, the details of FOMC meeting held three weeks ago, are "a bit stale" and US economic situation has improved since then, he said.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 1.23 per cent to close at 20,132.24 on Thursday, the biggest single-day gain in nearly three weeks. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, which tracks the performance of Hong Kong-listed China enterprises, gained by 1.42 per cent to close at 9,836.14.

On the earnings side, Sinopec (0386.HK), Greentown China (3900.HK), China Shenhua (1088.HK) and CHALCO (2600.HK) are among a batch of companies due to report interim results later on Friday. 

Overnight, The S&P 500 Index lost 0.8 per cent, or 11 points, to end at 1,402. In London, the  FTSE 100 index was flat at 5,776, as German and France urged Greece to carry out reforms and not to expect leeway on its bailout agreement.

Factors to watch:

-- Ping An Insurance (2318.HK) said on Thursday after market close that net profit increased by 9 percent to 14 billion yuan during the first half, as banking business demonstrated stable growth.

-- Bank of China (3988.HK), the nation's No.4 lender, said first-half net profit rose  7.6 percent to 71.6 billion yuan, while China Minsheng Banking (1988.HK) said after the close on Thursday  that first-half profit jumped 36 per cent to 19.05 billion yuan.

-- PetroChina (0857.HK), the nation's biggest oil producer, said on Thursday after market close that net first-half profit fell 6 per cent to 62 billion yuan. Its refining business lost 28.9 billion yuan during the period, compared with 21 billion yuan of losses in the year-earlier period.

-- China Unicom (0762.HK) said after the market close on Thursday that first-half profit gained 32 per cent to 3.43 billion yuan, helped by the rising number of users subscribing to its three-generation mobile services.