HONG KONG, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares were set for a firmer start on Wednesday after a strong showing on Wall Street, while increased merger activity encouraged investors back into the market.
The Hang Seng index closed up 0.2 percent at 22,323.94 on Tuesday, its highest close since August last year, largely on the back of a 2.8 percent jump in shares of insurer AIA Holdings.
The China Enterprises index closed flat, dragged lower by a slip on mainland markets which eased from their one-month highs.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was up 0.6 percent while South Korea's Kospi was 0.3 percent higher as 0035 GMT.
STOCKS TO WATCH
* A major shareholder in Guoco Group, a Hong Kong investment company controlled by Malaysian tycoon Quek Leng Chan, has made an offer to take the company private for HK$8.25 billion ($1.1 billion), Guoco Group said in a statement on Wednesday. The offer of HK$88.00 per share represented a 24.8 percent premium over Guacos last traded price.
* BHP Billiton agreed to sell its stake in the Browse liquefied natural gas (LNG) project to Chinese oil and gas producer PetroChina Co Ltd for $1.63 billion, the second partner to leave the project in recent months.
* Alberta is in the process of choosing a marketer for the crude oil it collects in lieu of cash royalties, a role now mostly filled by Nexen Inc, whose takeover by China's state-owned CNOOC Ltd was approved by Ottawa last week.
* HSBC Holdings Plc agreed to pay a record $1.92 billion in fines to U.S. authorities for allowing itself to be used to launder a river of drug money flowing out of Mexico and other banking lapses.
* ZETA Corp said to invest $30 million more in the U.S. market to demonstrate its long-term commitment to the U.S. market.
* Bank of China , China's No. 4 bank, has been appointed the clearing bank for yuan transactions in Taiwan, China's central bank said in a brief statement posted on its website on Tuesday.
* China's Baoshan Iron & Steel, the country's biggest listed steelmaker, said on Tuesday it will raise the January booking prices for some of its steel products, a signal the company is increasingly optimistic about its prospects.
* Agricultural Bank of China Ltd said it has received approval from China Banking Regulatory Commission and an administrative approval decision from the People's Bank of China for issue of subordinated bonds of up to 50 billion yuan within 24 months.
- Century Gina Retail Holdings Ltd SGX
- China Travel International Investment Hong Kong Ltd GEM
- Chinese Food and Beverage Group Ltd H1 results
- CSV Corporation Ltd First GEM in Beijing
- Hanson Construction Holdings Ltd GEM
- Monahan Iron & Steel Co Ltd third GEM in China
- Media Asia Group Holdings Ltd Q1 results
- Shandon Chen ming Paper Holdings Ltd Third GEM in China
- United Gene High-Tech Group Ltd AG
- China M2 money supply for November
- China outstanding loan growth for November
- Euro zone Industrial Production for October
- India CPI for Nov
- India Industrial output for Oct
- Germany CPI final for Nov
- South Korea Unemployment rate for Nov
- South Korea Money supply for Oct
- UK IL unemployment change for October
- UK Unemployment Claimant Count Monthly Change for November
- US import and export prices for November
- US Federal Budget for November
- US FOMC policy decision