Nikkei Asia300 Index loses as US rate caution, geopolitical risks weigh
HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks edged lower as the threat of rising U.S. interest rates and caution amid growing geopolitical tensions kept investors on the sidelines.
The Nikkei Asia300 Index lost 0.1% or 1.5 points to 1,168.78. China Petroleum & Chemical, China Unicom (Hong Kong) and India's Reliance Industries contributed heavily to losses on the 316-stock gauge. Tencent Holdings fell 0.4%. Indian e-commerce company Flipkart said in a statement Monday afternoon it has raised a total of $1.4 billion in a fresh funding round from Tencent, eBay and Microsoft. Samsung Electronics, the heaviest weighted stock on the index, advanced 0.8%.
Monday's losses in Asia come after U.S. markets ended little changed Friday. Investors remain cautious after the U.S. military last week launched dozens of missiles into Syria in response to a deadly chemical attack that killed at least 70 people in the nation's rebel-held area. Expectations of more rate increases by the Federal Reserve remain buoyant despite a mixed employment report that showed employers in the world's largest economy added fewer than expected jobs in March. But the unemployment rate ticked lower to 4.5%. On Friday, New York Fed President William Dudley downplayed how the central bank's plans to shrink its balance sheet will affect the authority's path of rate increases, boosting U.S. Treasury yields and the dollar.
The U.S. and China agreed to a 100-day plan to address trade imbalances after last week's meeting between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said. Investors had been concerned about an escalation of tensions between the world's two largest economies over trade policies.
The Nikkei Asia300 China Index fell 0.3% to 1,109.64. Investors await China's inflation data for March, due Wednesday, and trade data for March on Thursday.
Hong Kong's gauge added 0.3% to 1,110.16.
The country index for South Korea fell 0.5% to 1,251.82, led by a more than 4% slide in LG Electronics. Hyundai Motor rose 1%, its first gain in seven sessions. The carmaker has been weighed down by a recall and by reports that it will cut its production in China after reporting weak sales in the nation.
Taiwan's gauge slipped 0.2% to 1,272.74. Hon Hai Precision Industry shares rose 0.4%. After markets closed, the contract chipmaker said March sales increased 0.6% year on year to about $11 billion.
Data released Monday showed Taiwan's exports rose 15.1% in the first quarter, the fastest pace since 2011's January-March quarter, and imports surged 19.8%
In Singapore, the 22-stock gauge was little changed. Singapore retail sales for February are due Wednesday. Advance estimates for the city-state's first-quarter gross domestic product are due Thursday.
Malaysia's index also ended almost flat at 1,026.73.
In the rest of Southeast Asia, indexes for Philippines and Vietnam added 0.6% and 0.3%, while Thailand and Indonesia's gauges slipped 0.3% each.
The Nikkei Asia300 India index rose 0.3% to 1,176.29, led by a 3.6% jump in Indian Oil. Reliance Industries slid 1.7%, adding to Friday's more than 2% decline. India's telecom regulator asked Reliance Jio to withdraw its three-month complimentary offer to subscribers last week.
India's industrial production data for February and retail inflation for March are due Wednesday.
--V. Phani Kumar and Nimesh Vora
--Nikkei Markets is a real-time financial news service for South East Asia's markets published by Nikkei NewsRise Asia Pte Ltd, a Nikkei and NewsRise joint venture company. Nikkei Markets provides wide companies coverage in the region, including the Nikkei's Asia300 companies.