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=ASIA MARKETS: Rising US Yields And North Korean Tensions Pull Nikkei Asia300 Lower

HONG KONG (May 16) -- Asian stocks extended losses on Wednesday, as an overnight jump for U.S. Treasury yields fueled worries about a flight of capital from risk assets, while North Korea’s withdrawal from planned talks with Seoul rattled nerves.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index fell 0.4% to 1,412.55. Stocks on Wall Street ended lower overnight after the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds climbed to 3.07%, a level not seen since 2011. The advance came after upbeat U.S. retail sales data strengthened expectations of more rate increases from the Federal Reserve.

Renewed geopolitical worries clouded investor sentiment after North Korea cancelled a planned meeting with South Korea on Wednesday. The move fueled uncertainty surrounding an upcoming summit in Singapore between North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump. The isolated state’s first vice foreign minister Kim Kye Gwan on Wednesday said the country has no interest in a summit with the U.S. if it is based on “one-sided” demands to give up nuclear weapons.

Social-media-and-gaming major Tencent Holdings fell 0.5% ahead of its first-quarter results. Shortly after markets closed, the company reported a 61% increase in March quarter net profit and a 48% jump in revenue for the period. The numbers handily beat estimates in a Reuters poll of analysts.

Sun Hung Kai Properties slipped 0.6% after saying bought a plot of land in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district with a HK$25.16 billion ($3.20 billion) bid.

China Shenhua Energy ended 0.2% lower, trimming gains for the month so far to 6.6%. On Tuesday, the coal miner reported a 21.6% increase in April sales.

India’s biggest cigarette maker ITC added 1.5% after reporting a 10% increase in March quarter profit.

Rig-builder Keppel fell 0.7% in Singapore. Its unit Keppel Offshore & Marine on Wednesday said it will sell five jackup rigs to drilling contractor Borr Drilling for $745 million.

Singapore Airlines edged 0.2% lower. Late Tuesday, the airline said the total number of passengers it carried in April rose 7.6% to 2.90 million.

The Nikkei Asia300 ASEAN Index for Southeast Asian companies lost 0.5%. On Wednesday, the Bank of Thailand maintained its policy rate at 1.5%, as was widely expected. Meanwhile, economists in two separate polls by Reuters and Bloomberg expect Bank Indonesia to raise interest rates at its meeting that concludes Thursday.

- By V. Phani Kumar;; +852 39605150
- Edited by Suzannah Benjamin
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