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=ASIA MARKETS: Regional Shares Up On Conciliatory Signs Over Trade; Singapore Flat

HONG KONG (May 15) -- Hong Kong shares headed higher on Wednesday, tracking an overnight advance on Wall Street, as conciliatory remarks on trade from Washington and Beijing eased concerns over Sino-American tensions.

The Hang Seng Index had risen 0.7% to 28,326.32 by noon following a 1.5% slide on Tuesday. Tencent Holdings advanced 1.2% ahead of its first-quarter earnings report later Wednesday. Insurers AIA Group and Ping An Insurance Group rose 2.7% and 1.5%, respectively. The three stocks together contributed more than half the 50-stock gauge’s gains by points.

Equity indexes on Wall Street rose overnight after U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters that trade talks with China were ongoing. He said on Twitter that “when the time is right we will make a deal with China.” A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said Beijing and Washington had agreed to “pursue relevant discussions,” according to Reuters.

All of these comments came days after the U.S. raised tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25% from 10%, and China vowed to retaliate with a tariff increase on $60 billion worth of U.S. products. The Hang Seng Index shed 5.1% last week as trade tensions between the world’s largest economies had intensified.

The market will remain volatile and go back and forth in the near term as people doubt whether the softened tone can actually translate into a resolution of trade conflicts, said Linus Yip, chief strategist at First Shanghai Securities, calling Wednesday’s gains a “short-lived” rebound.

In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.1%. Most other equity markets in Asia were also higher, with the Nikkei Asia300 Index of regional companies rising 0.6%. The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI rose 0.9%, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index was little changed.

Kingsoft rose 5.5% in Hong Kong. The online gaming company on Tuesday said it swung to a loss in the first-quarter, compared with a profit a year ago, although revenue jumped 37% from a year ago. BOCOM International on Wednesday upgraded the stock to “buy” from “neutral.”

Samsonite International slid 6.8% to HK$19.20 after the luggage maker reported a 48.2% plunge in first-quarter net profit on a 6.3% drop in net sales. Nomura maintained its “reduce” rating on the stock and trimmed its price target to HK$18.50 from HK$20.70, calling the quarter a “very weak” start to the year.

Pou Sheng International added 3.5% after the sportswear retailer reported a 36% jump in January-to-March net profit. Its parent and Taiwanese footwear maker Yue Yuen Industrial (Holdings), slid 12.4% following a 20.9% decline in first-quarter net profit.

Chinese car-rental services provider CAR surged 13% following a 70% jump in first-quarter net profit and a 15% increase in total rental revenue.

New China Life Insurance rose 2.5% after reporting a 9.6% increase in accumulated gross premium income for the January to April period.

Singapore Telecommunications fell 1%. The company on Wednesday said net profit for the full year ended March fell 44% due to lower associates’ contributions as well as gains from its 75% divestment of NetLink Trust in the previous financial year.

- By Amy Lam;; +852 3960 5150
- Edited By Suzannah Benjamin
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