Hong Kong shares may start higher; investors focus on earnings cues
HONG KONG, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares could start the week higher on Monday on the back of gains in regional markets, but the upside is likely to be contained as investors await cues from a batch of earnings reports from heavyweight Chinese financial firms later this week.
Last Friday, the Hang Seng Index closed down 0.2 percent at 21,863.51, while the China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong fell 0.4 percent. Both benchmarks suffered their worst week since mid-June, down 2.9 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was up 0.1 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.6 percent at 0055 GMT.
Agricultural Bank of China , Ping An Insurance Group and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China are among companies scheduled to announce earnings next week.
FACTORS TO WATCH:
* China Construction Bank Corp, the country's No. 2 lender, posted a 9.7 percent rise in second-quarter net profit, slightly beating expectations as interest margins held steady.
* Asia's largest refiner Sinopec Corp posted a 22 percent rise in second-quarter net profit, helped by better refining margins after China introduced measures to let domestic fuel prices follow the international market more closely.
* Sinopec Corp's 160,000-barrel-per-day refinery in the southern island province of Hainan is undergoing a major overhaul that will end in late September, a company source said on Friday.
* BYD Co Ltd , the Warren Buffett-backed company best known for electric cars, said its first half net profit rose 26 fold, helped by strong auto sales and an improvement in its solar cell business.
* Sinopharm Group Co Ltd, China's largest pharmaceutical products distributor, said its first half net profit rose to 1.15 billion yuan from 958.9 million yuan in a year ago period.
* Jiangxi Copper Co Ltd has joined a list of potential Chinese suitors interested in buying Glencore Xstrata Plc's $5 billion-plus Las Bambas copper mine in Peru, underscoring the Chinese government's desire to plug a shortage in supply.
* China's Baoshan Iron & Steel, the country's biggest listed steelmaker by market value, posted a 61 percent fall in first-half net profit on narrowing margins.
* China Shenhua Energy Co Ltd , the country's largest coal producer, said its first half net profit was down 4.8 percent at 24 billion yuan.