May 10, 2017 8:14 pm JST

Nikkei Asia300 Index slips on caution after Trump fires Comey

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks edged lower Wednesday as caution reigned after U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly dismissed the nation's top law enforcement official and as investors took profits in South Korean shares following presidential elections.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index shed 0.1% or 1.8 points to 1,205.04. Philippines's Cebu Air fell 6.1%, leading losses on the 316-stock gauge, after reporting a 68% plunge in March quarter net income.

Trump on Tuesday unexpectedly fired Federal Bureau of Investigation's Director James Comey, a move that came amid an ongoing probe into the president's 2016 election campaign. The dollar index, measured against six major currencies, was last down 0.1% and U.S. stock futures pointed to a weak opening on Wall Street. Earlier this week, the S&P 500 Index rose to fresh record highs and Chicago Board of Trade's VIX volatility index, or the "fear gauge" slumped to 24-year lows.

"All in all, this does not support the view that the U.S. Trumpflation trade faces an easy road ahead of it; and it underlines that real surprises can pop up out of the box at any time right now," Rabobank wrote in a note. "Both facts make a mockery of a 1993 level VIX."

The country index for South Korea fell 1.5% on profit taking after liberal candidate Moon Jae-in won presidential elections months after his predecessor Park Geun-hye was ousted amid corruption charges. The gauge had added almost 6% in the two weeks ahead of elections. The nation's benchmark Kospi index ended 1% lower after scaling a record high intraday.

Korea Electric Power and E-Mart led losses on the Nikkei Asia300 South Korea Index, falling at least 3% each.

Taiwan's gauge squeezed out a 0.1% advance to end at 1,334.30. HTC surged 10% following a 7.2% plunge Tuesday. The cellphone maker reported a T$2 billion ($66 million) first-quarter net loss this week.

The Nikkei Asia300 China Index added 0.6% despite data showing a moderation in producer prices last month. Consumer prices rose slightly ahead of expectations.

Ping An Insurance Group and China Life Insurance added at least 2%, while Bank of China (BOC) paced gains for lenders, advancing 1.3%.

Hong Kong's gauge added 0.2%.

Markets in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand were closed Wednesday for a public holiday.

The country gauges for Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam fell. Indonesian markets are closed on Thursday.

India's index advanced 0.4% to 1,182.48. Bharti Airtel surged 7.9% despite reporting declines in fourth-quarter net profit and revenue. The mobile operator's net additions to mobile services stood at 7.8 million during the quarter. Money markets in India were closed Wednesday.

Zee Entertainment Enterprises rose 4% after reporting a jump in March quarter profit. Hero MotoCorp, due to report earnings Wednesday, added 1%.

--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.

Asia300

Cebu Air, Inc.

Philippines

Market(Ticker): PHS(CEB)
Sector:
Industry:
Transportation
Airlines
Market cap(USD): 1,210.20M
Shares: 605.95M
Asia300

Korea Electric Power Corp.

South Korea

Market(Ticker): KRX(015760)
Sector:
Industry:
Utilities
Electric Utilities
Market cap(USD): 24,495.20M
Shares: 641.96M
Asia300

E-Mart, Inc.

South Korea

Market(Ticker): KRX(139480)
Sector:
Industry:
Retail Trade
Discount Stores
Market cap(USD): 5,767.66M
Shares: 27.87M
Asia300

HTC Corp.

Taiwan

Market(Ticker): TAI(2498)
Sector:
Industry:
Electronic Technology
Telecommunications Equipment
Market cap(USD): 1,949.26M
Shares: 821.90M
Asia300

Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China Ltd.

China

Market(Ticker): HKG(2318)
Sector:
Industry:
Finance
Multi-Line Insurance
Market cap(USD): 119,691.98M
Shares: 18,280.24M
Asia300

China Life Insurance Co. Ltd.

China

Market(Ticker): HKG(2628)
Sector:
Industry:
Finance
Life/Health Insurance
Market cap(USD): 111,250.88M
Shares: 28,264.70M
Asia300

Bank of China Ltd.

China

Market(Ticker): HKG(3988)
Sector:
Industry:
Finance
Major Banks
Market cap(USD): 155,191.28M
Shares: 294,387.78M
Asia300

Bharti Airtel Ltd.

India

Market(Ticker): BOM(532454)
Sector:
Industry:
Communications
Wireless Telecommunications
Market cap(USD): 22,860.40M
Shares: 3,997.39M
Asia300

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd.

India

Market(Ticker): BOM(505537)
Sector:
Industry:
Consumer Services
Movies/Entertainment
Market cap(USD): 7,595.74M
Shares: 960.44M
Asia300

Hero MotoCorp Ltd.

India

Market(Ticker): BOM(500182)
Sector:
Industry:
Consumer Durables
Motor Vehicles
Market cap(USD): 11,173.84M
Shares: 199.69M

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