Hong Kong stocks may receive respite from good corporate results on Friday, but will remain under pressure and will likely trade in a narrow range, weighed down by concerns about volatile oil prices and ongoing turmoil in the Middle East.
On Thursday, the benchmark Hang Seng Index .HSI fell to a near five-month closing low, with sharp falls in airlines such as Air China Ltd and refiners, both hit by escalating oil prices.
Across the region, stocks were mixed with Japan's Nikkei .N225 up 0.2 percent and South Korea's KOSPI .KS11 slipping 0.1 percent. Taiwan's main TAIEX share index .TWII was trading up 0.9 percent.
STOCKS TO WATCH
* Asian insurance group AIA Group Ltd beat expectations to report a 54 percent rise in 2010 net profit on strong growth in key markets such as Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and South Korea.
* China Minsheng Banking Corp Ltd will halt trading ahead of an announcement, the country's seventh-largest lender said in a statement on Thursday. Minsheng said in a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange that a board meeting would be held on Friday to discuss amendments to a refinancing programme.
* A Chinese state company has tapped Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd and Guoco Group Ltd as potential investors for a fund that aims to raise up to 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) to develop Shanghai's Bund district, a source said on Thursday.
* Hopewell Holdings Ltd posted a 31.3 percent fall in first-half profit to HK$1.73 billion for the six months ended December.
* Hopewell Holdings and Sino Land Co Ltd are sounding out banks for about HK$5.8 billion in financing to back their Lee Tung Street/McGregor Street redevelopment project in Hong Kong's Wan Chai area, Basis Point reported, citing banking sources.
* New World Development Co Ltd and NWS Holdings Ltd said in a joint statement that the Listing Committee of the Stock Exchange had rejected their application to list Newton Resources Ltd. NWS is exploring possibilities including plan to further pursue the proposed spinoff.
* Energy and recycling firm Pearl Oriental Innovation Ltd said it had entered into an agreement to buy assets involved in developing and exploiting oil fields in Kazakhstan.
* Jiangxi Copper Co Ltd said it would be entitled to preferential policies relating to New High-Tech Enterprises for three consecutive years with an enterprise income tax rate of 15 percent as compared to the original income tax rate of 25 percent.
* Shanghai Electric Group Co Ltd said it would form a joint venture with Mitsubishi Electric Automation (China) Ltd and Mitsubishi Electric (China) Co Ltd. The joint venture will design, integrate and produce industrial energy saving systems.