HONG KONG, March 8 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares may start steady on Friday, ahead of data later in the day that will likely show China's exports and imports maintained double-digit growth momentum in the first two months of the year, even amid seasonal distortions.
A Reuters poll of 22 economists forecast February exports grew 10.1 percent from a year earlier, while imports likely fell 8.8 percent over the same period. The trade balance is forecast to show a deficit of $7.8 billion.
On Thursday, the Hang Seng Index closed flat on the day and is down 0.5 percent on the week. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong was down 0.4 percent on Thursday and 0.3 percent this week.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was up 1.4 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was down 0.1 percent at 0100 GMT.
FACTORS TO WATCH:
* Russian aluminum giant RUSAL has quietly abandoned plans for a multi-billion dollar aluminum smelter in Guinea, according to a government source and documents seen by Reuters on Thursday.
* Ping An Insurance (Group) Co Ltd said its subsidiary Ping An Bank Co Ltd posted a net profit of 13.4 billion yuan for 2012, up 31.5 percent from a year ago.
* Shui On Land recorded contracted property sales of 2.5 billion yuan ($401.92 million) for the first two months of 2013, up from sales of 473 million yuan for the same period last year.
* Sinotrans Shipping said its net profit for 2012 dropped 78 percent to $20.1 million due to lackluster global trade and seaborne demand growth amid an oversupply of vessels.