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=ASIA MARKETS: Nikkei Asia300 Slips After China GDP Growth Slows

HONG KONG (Jul 16) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan slipped on Monday, as a slowdown in China’s economic growth weighed on mainland companies while advances for technology shares limited losses.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index lost 0.1% to 1,311.58. Data released on Monday showed China’s economic growth expanded 6.7% in the second quarter from a year ago, in line with analyst expectations compiled in a Reuters poll. The pace slowed from first-quarter growth of 6.8%. Separately, the nation’s industrial output grew 6% last month, missing expectations, while fixed-asset investments in urban areas increased 6% in the first six months of 2018, compared with an expansion of 6.1% in the first five months of the year and 7% in the first four months.

The numbers came days after data showed China’s trade surplus expanded in June, with exports rising a larger-than-expected 11.3%.

“We expect growth in the second half to be challenged by the slow credit growth and softer real estate activity. Also, the intensifying trade conflict with the U.S. will start to weigh on growth,” Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics, wrote in a note. “But China’s most recent export data suggests that overall, global demand momentum remains solid for now.”

Petrochemicals maker LG Chem fell 2.1% in Seoul after China’s Ministry of Commerce on Monday said it will impose temporary anti-dumping measures on nitrile rubber from South Korea and Japan.

ZTE surged 16.5% in Hong Kong after the U.S. Department of Commerce lifted a three-month long ban on the sale of components to the telecommunications-equipment maker as the company deposited $400 million in escrow with a U.S. bank toward a suspended fine.

Shares of Air China and China Southern Airlines retreated in the weak market even as the two carriers reported an improvement in passenger traffic. Air China fell 1.4% despite a 12.1% increase in the number of passengers it carried in June, while China Southern Airlines lost 2.5% in spite of an 11.8% increase in number of travelers.

Private lender ICICI Bank dropped 3.3% in Mumbai. The losses came after The Economic Times reported, citing two people familiar with the matter, that the lender had launched an external probe to examine allegations of irregularities in loan accounts that were raised by a whistleblower complaint.

Infosys added 1.8% after reporting a 4% rise in net profit for the June quarter and maintaining its revenue outlook for the year. The earnings, which came in below analyst expectations, included a one-off charge related to a reduction in fair value for its Israeli software unit Panaya.

Tata Motors declined 4.8%. Moody’s Investors Service late Friday said it downgraded the company’s corporate family rating by a notch to Ba2 from Ba1, citing expectations of continued weakness in the automaker’s consolidated credit metrics over the next two years, led by its wholly owned subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover Automotive.

Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories plunged 9.9% in Mumbai. A U.S. court granted U.K.-based Indivior a preliminary injunction to block the Indian drugmaker from selling a generic version of an opioid addiction treatment. Citi Research said the injunction “once again poses a question mark on near-term earnings momentum” for Dr. Reddy’s.

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