Hong Kong shares may start lower, Chinese property sector in focus
HONG KONG, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares may start off a two-month high on Monday, with the Chinese property sector in focus after the People's Bank of China reiterated strict controls over the sector will remain in place.
In its quarterly policy report released late on Friday, the Chinese central bank also said that monetary policy would remain prudent, while hoping to anchor investors' near-term expectations on market interest rates and liquidity.
Growth in China's non-manufacturing sector picked up in July, though companies noted that inflation is rising and pushing up costs, official data showed on Saturday. The government's non-manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 54.1 last month from June's 53.9. The HSBC reading is due at 0145 GMT.
HSBC, Hang Seng Bank, Yashili International and China Overseas Land are among companies due to release corporate earnings later in the day.
On Friday, the Hang Seng Index finished up 0.5 percent at 22,191 points, its highest closing level since June 4. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings ended up 0.1 percent.
Elsewhere in Asia at 0045 GMT, Japan's Nikkei was down 1.1 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was flat.
FACTORS TO WATCH:
* China has halted imports of all New Zealand milk powder, New Zealand's trade minister said on Sunday, after bacteria that can cause botulism found in some dairy products raised food safety concerns that threatened its $9.4 billion annual dairy trade.
* China's insurance regulator has loosened the cap on interest rates offered on life insurance policies, marking another incremental step towards liberalising interest rates throughout the financial system.
* The London Metal Exchange and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have been named as co-defendants in a U.S. class-action lawsuit alleging anticompetitive behaviour in aluminium warehousing, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEx) said.
* HSBC's half-year profit is set to rise 15 percent to more than $14 billion as a three-year cost cutting plan starts to pay off and lower bad debts compensate for a fall in revenue at Europe's biggest bank.
* China Foods Ltd on Sunday said it made a net loss in the first half of 2013, compared to a profit a year ago, blaming unfavourable trading conditions and competition. It said it expected to post a loss for the full year.
* China's Sinopec Corp and U.S.-listed Weatherford International are in advanced talks about forming a joint oilfield service company, as the world's top energy consumer seeks overseas expertise to help unlock its vast shale resources, said people with direct knowledge of the matter.
* KGHM, Europe's No. 2 copper producer, said on Friday its Canadian unit signed a deal to sell all of its production of polimetallic ore from Sudbury mines to Vale SA for some $1.13 billion over five years.
* Gucco Group Ltd said its 65 percent owned GuocoLand Ltd would sell its entire interest in Guo Xiang Property Co Ltd, which has interest in a land parcel in China's Nanjing, to a third party for 1.2 billion yuan.(Reporting by Clement Tan and Donny Kwok; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)