Nikkei Asia300 Index rises in May on earnings, French election cheer
HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan rose in May after a market-favored outcome in French Presidential elections bolstered global sentiment, while a rally in regional technology companies kept investor spirits high.
The Nikkei Asia300 Index added 3.4% in May. Heavyweight internet giant Tencent Holdings added 9.9% this month after its March quarter earnings beat even the most optimistic estimates in a Bloomberg poll and positivity over its WeChat messaging platform sustained. Apple suppliers Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing added at least 4% each. The Asia300 Index, however, fell 0.4% or 5.6 points to 1,229.14 on Wednesday.
Investor sentiment received a fillip after pro-European Union candidate Emmanuel Macron won French presidential elections, allaying fears about the nation's possible exit from the bloc. U.S. indexes staged a rebound to scale fresh records after suffering a selloff sparked by political turmoil in Washington D.C. Regional markets also cheered the Federal Reserve's May meeting minutes that indicated some uncertainty about rate increases beyond June.
The country gauge for China jumped 4.7%, while Hong Kong's index added 2.1%in May. The gains came despite investor concerns over authorities' efforts to rein in financial risks and as markets largely shrugged off sovereign credit rating downgrades by Moody's Investors Service for the mainland and the city.
Ping An Insurance Group jumped 14% and China Life Insurance rose 8.2% this month after mainland authorities announced plans to relax rules for investments into projects under the One Belt, One Road initiative.
Belle International Holdings jumped over 15% this month after receiving a buyout offer at HK$6.30 that will take the footwear retailer private. The stock closed unchanged at HK$6.08 on Wednesday.
The country gauge for South Korea added 5.4% this month. On May 10, Moon Jae-in was sworn in as the nation's president, taking over after his predecessor Park Geun-hye was impeached in March.
Taiwan's index added 2.5% in May, led by a 14% jump in Hotai Motor.
The Nikkei Asia300 Malaysia Index added 1.9% this month. Glovemaker Hartalega Holdings surged 24% in May to lead gains on the 316-stock gauge this month. The company chalked up its best monthly advance since July 2009 after its fourth-quarter profit jumped 45.3%. Its rival Top Glove added 15%.
Budget airline AirAsia slid 11% this month, weighed down by a 30% decline in March quarter profit.
Singapore's gauge climbed 2.6%. Commodity trader Olam International rose 7.3% in May after it reported at 26.6% jump in first-quarter profit.
The city-state's largest lenders DBS Group Holdings, United Overseas Bank and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. added at least 5% each. Moody's changed its outlook for Singapore's banking system to stable from negative, citing improving growth conditions and stabilizing commodity prices that will limit a further weakening in asset quality and profitability.
In the rest of Southeast Asia, gauges for Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam rose at least 0.9% each.
The country index for India added 2.4% in May. ICICI Bank jumped 17% in May after the lender said it expects additions to bad loans to be significantly lower this financial year.
Sun Pharmaceutical Industries slumped 22% in May, the biggest loser on the Nikkei Asia300 this month, after the drugmaker reported a 13.6% drop in fourth-quarter profit.
-- Nimesh Vora and V. Phani Kumar
--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.