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  • HONG KONG, Oct 31- Hong Kong shares closed out a second-straight monthly gain on Wednesday, bouncing off a near two-week low after Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country's largest bank, posted third-quarter earnings that beat expectations.

  • SINGAPORE, Oct 31- London copper climbed for a second session on Wednesday, pushing further away from two-month lows as risk appetite picked up, but the industrial metal is heading for its weakest month since May as demand growth from top consumer China slows.

  • HONG KONG, Oct 31- Mainland Chinese shares edged higher on Wednesday, buoyed by earnings-driven strength in the banking and retail sectors that helped benchmark indices trim October losses. The CSI300 Index of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings closed up 0.7 percent on Wednesday but down 1.7 percent in October at 2,254.8.

  • LONDON, Oct 31- Hong Kong was named the world's top financial centre for the second year running by the World Economic Forum, thanks to the strength of its business environment, infrastructure and a favourable tax regime. The United States, Britain, Singapore, Australia and Canada followed Hong Kong in the 2012 rankings.

  • *Hitachi, Komatsu up after maintaining outlook guidance. TOKYO, Oct 31- Japan's Nikkei share average advanced on Wednesday as investors took comfort that some firms, such as Hitachi Ltd and Komatsu Ltd, did not cut their full-year earnings guidance as feared.

  • Key currencies stayed in recent ranges on Wednesday, waiting for developments in Europe on efforts to solve the debt crisis and for the U.S. monthly jobs report on Friday as well as China's official manufacturing PMI on Thursday. Financial spreadbetters expect London's FTSE 100, Paris's CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX to open as much as 0.2 percent lower.

  • Asian stock markets were mostly higher on Wednesday as investors regained risk appetite despite the absence of a fresh lead from Wall Street. Regional markets seem on course to end October on a positive note.

  • *Yuan posts strongest open just shy of trade limit. SHANGHAI, Oct 31- China's yuan opened just shy of its strong-side limit on Wednesady, posting its strongest ever open as demand for the currency rebounded after appearing to ease in the previous session.

  • *HSI +0.4 pct; CSI300 flat, Shanghai -0.2 pct. *HSI set for Oct gain, CSI300, Shanghai to post monthly loss. HONG KONG, Oct 31- Hong Kong shares bounced off a near two-week low, buoyed by strength in Chinese banks after the largest, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, posted third-quarter earnings that beat expectations.

  • *MSCI Asia ex- Japan up 0.3 pct, Nikkei gains 1.4 pct. The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3 percent, off a two-week low hit on Tuesday. ``The U.S. has been closed two nights but Europe's been okay so there are no real negatives at this stage,'' said Winston Sammut, investment director at Maxim Asset Management in Sydney.

  • *Spot gold may rebound to $1,730/ oz- technicals.

  • HONG KONG, Oct 31- China's top four banks are on course for their weakest annual profit growth since going public, as the central bank's interest rate cuts in the middle of the year kick in, slicing lending margins.

  • *Concerns over Apple's long-term growth capped Hon Hai's share rise-analyst. TAIPEI, Oct 31- Shares of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry jumped on Wednesday after the main manufacturer of Apple Inc's products posted a sharp rise in quarterly net profit, boosted by new gadget launches by the California giant.

  • TOKYO, Oct 31- Japanese fund managers pushed their allocation for euro zone bonds to the highest level in 10 months as yields stabilised, but cut their overall exposure to bonds from last month's record high as risk appetite revived, a Reuters poll found.

  • Among active stocks, construction equipment maker Komatsu rallied 3.2 per cent to Y1, 672 on receding concerns over its outlook following second-quarter results. Hitachi jumped 3.2 per cent to Y423 after maintaining its full-year profit forecast.

  • Shares in BG Group fell by a fifth after the FTSE 100 oil and gas group cut its production forecast for this year and next. The company attributed the slide in the production outlook to a series of deferrals or delays on projects in the North Sea, USA, Egypt and Brazil.

  • General Motors reported lower third-quarter earnings, earning solid profits in its strong US business, but weighed down by widening losses in Europe.

  • "The divergence between banks and the real economy looks too good to be sustainable," said Stanley Li, an analyst with Mirae Asset Securities. Two main factors explained the better-than-expected performance from China's banks.

  • TOKYO, Oct 31- Japan's Nikkei share average was seen moving higher on Wednesday after losing 1 percent on profit-taking a day earlier when the Bank of Japan eased monetary policy in line with expectations. ``Since the reaction to the BOJ was fully priced in yesterday, I think we should bounce back today,'' said Toshiyuki Kanayama, senior market analyst at Monex. ``The index should be steady, with some small gains, although there's a lack of incentives because the U.S. wasn't open.'' Market players said the Nikkei was likely to trade between 8,850 to 8,950 on Wednesday.

  • Chinese listed companies have reported a sharp rise in unpaid bills during the third quarter, in one of the clearest signs yet of the toll that China’s economic slowdown is taking on corporate balance sheets. The FT reports.