HONG KONG, April 25 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares could start steady on Thursday ahead of a slew of first quarter earnings from bellwether Chinese companies ranging from Chinese oil majors PetroChina and Sinopec Corp to Bank of China.
Citic Securities, China Life Insurance, China Unicom, COSCO Pacific, Great Wall Motor and Yanzhou Coal are also among companies due to report first quarter earnings later in the day.
On Wednesday, the Hang Seng Index ended up 1.7 percent at 22,183.1, its highest close since April 3. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong climbed 2 percent.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was up 0.1 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.4 percent at 0032 GMT.
FACTORS TO WATCH:
* China will cut its retail price of gasoline by 395 yuan ($63.93) per tonne and that of diesel by 400 yuan from Thursday, the government said, in its first change under a new fuel price mechanism that is more tightly linked to the cost of crude oil.
* Brazil's Vale SA , the world's second-largest mining company, said on Wednesday that first quarter net profit fell 18 percent from a year earlier, but the results were better than market expectations.
* China Minsheng Banking Corp Ltd , the country's seventh-largest listed bank, said first quartet net profit rise 20 percent to 11 billion yuan from a year earlier.
* Haitong Securities said its first quarter net profit climbed 37 percent to 1.4 billion yuan.
* China Pacific Insurance said its first quarter net profit jumped 24 percent to 2.2 billion yuan ($356.10 million) from a year earlier.
* The Jamaican government and Russian mining company Rusal have agreed to reopen two of the Caribbean island's alumina plants within three years, Jamaica's energy and mining minister, Phillip Paulwell, announced on Wednesday.
* Sinopharm Group said its first quarter net profit rose 17.9 percent from a year earlier.
* Anton Oilfield said it has entered into a master mutual supply and purchase agreement with Schlumberger.
* Fosun International said it respects and will comply with the judgment of the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court that the company's proposed acquisition of The Bund 8-1 Land in Shanghai is a malicious collusion.