HONG KONG, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares could start
the year steady at 18-month highs on Wednesday, as investors
await an outcome to U.S. congressional negotiations that will
help avert a fiscal crisis in the world's largest economy.
On Monday, the Hang Seng Index closed flat at
22,656.9, hovering at its highest close since July 2011. Stiff
chart resistance is next seen at around 22,800, intra-day highs
last seen in July and August 2011. The benchmark jumped 22.9
percent in 2012.
Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.5
percent at 0052 GMT. China and Japan markets are closed for a
FACTORS TO WATCH:
* China's official manufacturing purchasing managers' index
held steady in December at 50.6, matching November's seven-month
high, as growth in new orders was unchanged and the pace of
output softened marginally.
* China will reimpose import tax on some goods - including
solar equipment, natural gas pipelines and railway machinery -
from 2013 to help domestic manufacturers, the finance ministry
said on Monday.
* China Tianrui Group Cement Co Ltd clarified
media reports that it is capable of settling its bank borrowings
and increase in finance costs was due to higher base interest
rates in China.
* Metallurgical Corp of China Ltd will transfer
its 51.06 percent equity interest in loss-making Huludao
Nonferrous Group to MCC's controlling shareholder.(Reporting by Clement Tan and Lee Chyen Yee; Editing by