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Asia300

Asian stocks fall on caution over Trump's tax rules, Nikkei Asia300 Index slips

HONG KONG (NewsRise) -- Asian stocks edged lower on Friday after a recent rally, as investors awaited details of Donald Trump's tax policies.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index fell 0.4% to 1,132.48.

The decline came after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday the Trump administration is committed to getting tax reforms done by August. Hopes of U.S. tax cuts have been a major catalyst for a recent global stocks rally. While Mnuchin's comments were positive, investors took a cautious stance as they are looking for more clarity on the matter when Trump delivers a speech to the U.S Congress on Tuesday.

Also weighing on demand were comments by Trump in an interview with Reuters on Thursday, during which he called China "grand champions" of currency manipulation.

The Nikkei Asia300 China index fell 0.8% to 1,093.89 and the Nikkei Asia300 Hong Kong gauge slipped 0.1% to 1,073.89.

The Nikkei Asia300 Malaysia Index declined 0.2% to 989.04 points, as weaker-than-expected earnings dragged the gauge lower for a second day. Axiata Group slumped 5.3% to 4.29 ringgit, adding to Thursday's 5.6% fall after it reported a net loss for the fourth quarter and slashed its dividend. Maxis, the country's second-biggest mobile operator, slipped 1.4% to 6.29 ringgit.

IHH Healthcare shed 3.9% to 5.91 ringgit after posting a 42.51 million-ringgit loss for the fourth quarter because of exchange losses as against a profit of 415.8 million a year ago.

The Nikkei Asia300 Singapore Index rose 0.4% to 1,086.04. Wilmar International snapped a four-session losing streak after its December quarter earnings. The stock added 0.8% to S$3.7.

Water treatment major Hyflux was the biggest loser on the gauge, falling 8.7% to S$0.575 after its full year profit for 2016 collapsed over 90% to S$4.8 million. The company said it expects this year to be another challenging period.

Sembcorp Industries slipped 2.7% to S$1.74, trimming Thursday's 5% advance. On Thursday, it posted fourth-quarter earnings that more than doubled from a year ago.

The South Korea index slipped 0.9% to 1,207.90. Samsung Electronics dropped 2.5% amid reports that senior executives of the Samsung Group tangled with a corruption scandal have offered to resign. The company said Friday that it will tighten its donation policy as it continues to grapple with the fallout of the corruption charges.

The Nikkei Asia300 Thailand index fell 0.2% to 1,201.72, and Taiwan's gauge was down 0.1% to 1,248.27. The Nikkei Asia300 Philippines index declined 1% to 985.46.

--V. Phani Kumar and Nimesh Vora

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