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Hong Kong shares set for mild weekly gain on China optimism

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HONG KONG, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares are set for aslightly higher open on Friday that will lift them into positiveterritory for the week as hopes of more steps from China tosupport its domestic stock markets lure investors back into themarket.

The Hang Seng Index rose 0.4 percent on Thursdaywhile locally listed Chinese shares closed up 1.9percent largely due to a rally in banking shares. Chinesebanking shares were the Hang Seng's top performers with ICBC

up 4.3 percent.

Central Huijin, a unit of China's sovereign wealth fund,said earlier this week that it had bought Shanghai-listed sharesof the "Big 4" banks and would continue to increase its stakes.

Weekly inflows into China equity funds have averaged morethan US$200 million a week, the highest in Asia, according todata from fund tracker EPFR.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was down 0.1percent while South Korea's Kospi was trading littlechanged as of 0020 GMT.

STOCKS TO WATCH:

* Canada said it needs more time to complete its review of a$15.1 billion Chinese bid to take over oil and gas explorerNexen Inc , a deal that has raised fears about openingthe Canadian energy sector to the Asian power's state-ownedcompanies. The government on Thursday extended its review ofCNOOC Ltd's bid by 30 days, to Nov. 11.

* Brazil's Vale SA said it has begunproducing copper concentrate at its Lubambe mine in Zambia.

* China's best-known local sportswear group, Li Ning Co Ltd, said its chief financial officer Chong Yik Kay hasresigned, the latest reshuffle of senior management as thecompany comes under pressure from China's economic slowdown.

* Property firm Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd , ownedby billionaire Li Ka-shing's family, plans to separately listits hotel business by way of an investment trust to free upcapital for new investments, while realising the value of thehotels.

(Reporting by Vikram Subhedar and Donny Kwok; Editing byJacqueline Wong)

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

Keywords: MARKETS HONGKONG CHINA STOCKS/ PREOPEN