MGM Resorts International reported lower fourth-quarter earnings at most of its resorts in Las Vegas, the company's most important market, sending its shares down 3.2 percent.

MGM, reported to be planning a public listing of shares in its Macau joint venture at the end of February, posted a narrower net loss for the quarter as it cut expenses.

The casino operator opened its flagship CityCenter project on the Las Vegas Strip at the end of 2009 and has struggled amid the recession and downturn in consumer spending.

We are encouraged in early 2011 by the level of business activity we are seeing, Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren said in a statement. Our forward booking pace is currently ahead of last year, led by a stronger convention mix which we believe will position our company to have a better year than last.

MGM posted an adjusted fourth-quarter loss of 20 cents per share, compared with analysts' average forecast of a loss of 22 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The net loss was $139.2 million, or 29 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $433.9 million, or 98 cents a share, a year earlier.

Net revenue rose to $1.47 billion from $1.45 billion, in line with analysts' estimates.

MGM owns 10 resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, where it makes the bulf of its profits, as well as casino-resorts in Mississippi and Michigan and joint ventures in New Jersey and Macau.

The company's Macau joint venture, which originally filed early last year for an anticipated Hong Kong initial public offering, is expected to raise about $800 million with the upcoming IPO, according to sources.

MGM shares were down 50 cents at $15.04 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Deena Beasley; additonal reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Bangalore; editing by John Wallace)