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=ASIA MARKETS: Asian Stocks Rebound As Trump Comments Rekindle Trade Deal Hopes

HONG KONG (May 15) -- Asian shares rebounded Wednesday, helped by U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments that indicated that a trade deal with China was possible.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index of companies outside Japan added 0.2% to close at 1,276.82. The index had fallen by 6% this month through Tuesday in the wake of intensifying U.S.-China trade tensions. Hong Kong-shares of Ping An Insurance Group advanced 1.4% and WH Group jumped 5.1% after falling by 7% and 20% this month till yesterday. An index of Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, recovered from four-month lows, ending 0.4% higher.

Asian equities were boosted by a positive session on Wall Street overnight. The S&P 500 Index closed 0.8% higher yesterday after Trump told reporters that trade talks with China had not collapsed and were ongoing. Further, on Twitter, the president said “when the time is right, we will make a deal with China” and that his friendship with China President Xi Jinping is “unlimited.”

Trump’s seemingly reconciliatory remarks helped offset concerns over broad-based weak China data. On Wednesday, China reported that industrial output grew by 5.4% in April, retail sales by 7.2%, and urban investment by 6.1%. The growth in all the three was slower than the pace in March and below expectations of economists polled by Reuters.

“Today’s data suggests the need for proactive policy support, especially amid an escalation in the China-U.S. trade disputes,” ANZ Research said in a note. “The renewed tensions may pose further uncertainties to China’s manufacturing sector, and the data today may trigger market concerns about the sustainability of China’s recovery in late Q1.”

In other movers on the A300 on Wednesday, Hon Hai Precision Industry dropped 2.4% after the Taiwanese iPhone maker’s March quarter net profit missed expectations.

Singapore Telecommunications declined 0.6% after the company’s fourth-quarter net profit was nearly unchanged from a year earlier. Sembcorp Industries rose 0.4% after the Singaporean conglomerate reported a 21% on-year increase in first-quarter net profit.

City Developments slid 1.6%. While the Singaporean developer reported a 134% rise in net profit, revenue decreased 29.5%. The jump in the company’s net profit was aided by profit from divestment.

ComfortDelGro ended 1.9% lower. The Singapore-based transport operator late Tuesday said net profit in the March quarter rose 6.2%.

Thai beverage maker Ichitan Group surged 7.9% following a 250% jump in net profit in the January-March quarter. Saha Pathanapibul fell 3.2% after the Thai consumer company reported a 9% fall in net profit in the same period.

Nestle India advanced 0.7% after the food company reported a 9.2% rise in net profit in the March quarter.

- By Nimesh Vora;; +852 3960 5150
- Edited by Vipin Nair
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