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Hong Kong shares seen firmer, defensives in favour

Wednesday, 3 Oct 2012 | 8:51 PM ET

HONG KONG, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares were set to open slightly higher on Thursday with defensive sectors such as telecoms continuing to attract investor interest although gains are likely to be capped by weakness in oil producers after crude prices slumped overnight.

The Hang Seng index started October with mild gains, rising 0.2 percent on Wednesday. Insurer AIA Group was the biggest boost for the benchmark, hitting a record intraday high and ending up 2.3 percent.

The China Enterprises index ended the day little changed with turnover sluggish as mainland stock markets remain shut through the week.

Stocks on Wall Street held on to gains overnight on better-than-expected ADP jobs data. But a weak 2013 forecast from Hewlett-Packard senti its shares down 13 percent to a nine-year low which in turn could weigh on Hong Kong tech issues such as Lenovo .

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was up 0.3 percent while South Korea's Kospi was off 0.1 percent as of 0030 GMT.

STOCKS TO WATCH:

* Swire Properties Ltd said its biggest shareholder John Swire & Sons (H.K.) Ltd has agreed to sell all its direct shareholdings in the property group for HK$4.88 billion ($629.2 million).

* Canada's official opposition New Democratic Party will unveil its position on CNOOC Ltd's $15.1 billion bid for oil Canadian producer Nexen Inc at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday, the party said in a statement on Wednesday.

* Russia's Rusal, the world's largest aluminium producer, will invest $100 million in a coal-fired electricity generating plant in Jamaica, hoping to reduce power costs at its operations in the Caribbean country. Rusal controls 65 percent of Jamaica's alumina production capacity and operates three of the island's four alumina refineries.

(Reporting by Vikram Subhedar; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

((vikram.subhedar@thomsonreuters.com)(+852 28436975))

Keywords: MARKETS HONGKONG CHINA STOCKS/ PREOPEN