Hong Kong shares set to fall after Bernanke comments, ahead of China flash PMI
HONG KONG, June 20 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares could plumb fresh 2013 lows on Thursday, with interest rate-sensitive counters seen under pressure after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signalled the Fed may begin reducing stimulus later this year.
Investors will also be watching the June HSBC manufacturing flash purchasing managers' index for China, due at 0145 GMT. This could provide fresh clues on the state of the world's second-largest economy at a time where a severe cash squeeze is overwhelming its interbank market.
China's cabinet reaffirmed on Wednesday that it would make sure that credit growth supported the real economy and would control the flow of new money into industries struggling with overcapacity.
Bernanke said on Wednesday the U.S. economy is expanding strongly enough for the Fed to begin slowing the pace of its $85 billion monthly purchases of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, with the goal of ending it in mid-2014.
On Wednesday, the Hang Seng Index ended down 1.1 percent at 20,986.9 points in its first decline in four sessions. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong shed 1.5 percent.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was down 1.3 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was down 1.4 percent at 0051 GMT.
FACTORS TO WATCH:
* Petróleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil's state-run oil company, and China Petroleum and Chemical Corp are in talks to build a $20 billion, 300,000-barrel-a-day refinery in the South American country, according to a securities filing on Wednesday.
* PetroChina Co Ltd, Asia's top oil and gas firm, has started laying a pipeline dedicated to transport shale gas - the first of its kind in China - from one of the country's most prolific shale plays, parent company CNPC said on Wednesday.
* China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd said its aggregate number of mobile subscribers for May amounted to 258.36 million with net addition of 3.74 million mobile subscribers.
* Hypermarket chain operator Sun Art Retail Group Ltd said it has established a 65 percent owned on-line retail business, Uitox E-commerce (Shanghai) Co Ltd, in China with registered capital of 100 million yuan. For statement, htp://www.hkexnews.hk/listedco/listconews/sehk/2013/0619/LTN2013 0619230.pdf