HONG KONG, March 4 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares could start
weaker on Monday, with the Chinese property sector in focus
after Beijing announced more tightening measures in a bid to
contain housing costs on the eve of the country's annual
China could increase required down payments and loan rates
for buyers of second homes in cities where prices are rising too
quickly, the State Council said on Friday.
The annual Chinese People's Political Consultative
Conference began on Sunday and the National People's Congress,
where Xi Jinping is expected to be confirmed as president,
starts in Beijing on Tuesday.
HSBC Holdings and Hang Seng Bank
are among companies due to post final 2012 corporate earnings
later in the day.
Last Friday, the Hang Seng Index shed 0.6 percent to
22,880.2, paring this week's rise to 0.4 percent. The China
Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings shed 0.8
percent on the day, but inched up 0.2 percent this week.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was up 1.1
percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was flat at 0037 GMT.
FACTORS TO WATCH:
* China is set to use swelling offshore holdings of its
tightly-managed currency worth around 1 trillion yuan ($160
billion) to justify a landmark shift in tactics to relax capital
* China is likely to set up a single watchdog for food
safety and pharmaceuticals, streamlining a complex regulatory
system that has seen a series of scandals over food
contamination and fake medicines, the South China Morning Post
said on Monday.
* HSBC and Standard Chartered
will report a reduction in their bonus pools,
reflecting separate settlements with U.S. authorities over
probes into money laundering and sanctions violations, Sky News
reported on Sunday.
* Las Vegas Sands Corp, parent of Sands China Ltd
said it "likely" violated the federal Foreign Corrupt
Practices Act, which outlaws the bribery of foreign officials,
according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on
* Chrysler and Chinese automaker Guangzhou Automobile Group
joint venture GAC-Fiat aims to produce over
100,000 new Jeep models in China by as early as 2014, in a move
that is key to Fiat's goal of selling 300,000 vehicles annually
in China by next year.
* Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd is likely to
launch monthly metals contracts as part of a plan to boost
business with mainland China and justify its $2.2 billion
purchase of the London Metal Exchange, senior metals industry
executives and traders said on Friday.
* Chinese oil giant CNOOC Ltd has agreed to
changes to its oil-drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico to
quell U.S. national security concerns as a condition for U.S.
approval of its $15 billion buyout of Canada's Nexen Inc
* A series of territorial disputes with its neighbours will
ensure China boosts defence spending when it reveals this year's
military budget ahead of the annual parliamentary sitting next
week, security experts say.
* China Merchants Bank Co Ltd said on
Friday that preliminary profit for 2012 was up 25.3 percent,
according to a company release on the Shanghai Stock Exchange
* Mid-sized lender China Minsheng Banking Corp Ltd
is set to launch an up to $3.2 billion
convertible bond as soon as March 15, IFR reported on Friday,
citing sources with direct knowledge of the plans.
* Air China Ltd will buy 31 aircraft
from Boeing Company to expand its fleet capacity, the
firm said in an announcement filed with the Hong Kong stock
exchange on Friday.
* Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd will buy three Boeing
747-8 freighters, the company said in an announcement filed with
the Hong Kong stock exchange on Friday.