Hong Kong shares may start lower; China seen tolerating slower growth

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Hong Kong shares may start lower on Tuesday after comments from China Premier Li Keqiang signalled that Beijing could tolerate lower growth for the year.

Hong Kong shares may start lower on Tuesday after comments from China Premier Li Keqiang signalled that Beijing could tolerate lower growth for the year.

Li said China needed an average of 7 percent annual economic growth to achieve its goal of doubling per capita gross national product by 2020.

On Monday, the Hang Seng Index rose 0.3 percent from its four-week low to 22,686.05 points. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong gained 0.3 percent.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was up 0.1 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was flat at 0100 GMT.

FACTORS TO WATCH:

* First Pacific Co Ltd said it plans to raise up to HK$3.92 billion ($505 million) through a rights issue and use the proceeds to finance potential acquisitions, to strengthen its balance sheet, and for general corporate purposes.

* Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing is considering joint listings of commodities products on mainland Chinese bourses to capitalise on last year's acquisition of the London Metal Exchange, chief executive Charles Li said on Monday.

* British banks HSBC Holdings plc and Standard Chartered plc sold 1.5 billion yuan ($244.63 million) worth of notes in Singapore on Monday in the first dim sum bond issuances since yuan-clearing became available in the city-state.

* China Taiping Insurance Holdings Co Ltd said in a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Monday that it would spend HK$13.3 billion ($1.71 billion) to restructure.

* China Gas Holdings Ltd said it expected to record a significant increase in net profit for the year ended March 31 as compared to a year ago due to a better than expected operating performance during the period.

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