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Asia300

China financials, French relief lift Nikkei Asia300 Index this week

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan rose this week, helped by a recovery in Chinese financials, and as a market-favored outcome in French presidential elections spurred risk appetite.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index edged 0.1% higher to 1,211.98 on Friday, ending the week with a gain of 1.7%. Malaysia's DRB-Hicom was the best performer on the gauge this week, adding 18%, followed by Hartalega Holdings' 14% jump after the glove-maker reported a robust fourth-quarter profit. Singapore's Wilmar International surged nearly 10% on Friday, ending the week 8% higher, after the palm oil processer reported a 51% jump in quarterly profit and announced plans to restructure China operations.

Risk sentiment improved this week after pro-European Union candidate Emmanuel Macron beat his far-right rival Marine Le Pen to win the French presidential elections, easing concerns about the nation's future in the bloc.

The country gauge for China added 3% this week after a 1.1% decline last week. Efforts by authorities to rein in financial risks have raised concerns about tighter liquidity, weighing on demand for the nation's equities in recent sessions.

Mainland insurers China Life Insurance and Ping An Insurance Group rose more than 7% each for the week after Chinese government bond yields climbed to two-year highs. Top lenders China Construction Bank (CCB), Bank of China (BOC), Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) advanced at least 2% each during the week. Hong Kong's index rose 1.8%.

In India, Godrej Consumer Products finished the week with an 8% advance after March quarter profit grew three-fold. Mobile operator Bharti Airtel added 5.9% during the week despite reporting a 69% decline in quarterly profit. The company reported strong subscriber growth for the period.

Two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp rose 5.2% this week despite a decline in fourth-quarter profit. The nation's 44-stock gauge rose 1%.

South Korea's index rose 2% this week amid speculation the administration of newly elected President Moon Jae-in will introduce policies aimed at boosting economic growth. The nation's markets were closed Tuesday for elections.

Heavyweight Samsung Electronics added 0.7% this week for a third straight weekly advance.

Taiwan's index fell 0.3% on Friday, but gained 1.5% for the week. Hon Hai Precision or Foxconn fell 1.4% Friday after reporting a small 2% increase in first-quarter net profit. The Apple-supplier rose 2.5% for the week.

Singapore's gauge rose 0.4% for the week. Lenders led gains for a second consecutive week on the back of better-than-expected earnings. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. rose 3.2% this week after a 14% rise in March quarter net income. DBS Group Holdings and United Overseas Bank, after reporting upbeat earnings last week, added at least 1% this week.

The country gauge for the city state fell 0.3% on Friday. DBS and UOL were both down at least 1%, while OCBC ended 0.1% lower. Singaporean property and hotel group City Developments fell 2.5% on Friday after reporting a 19% decrease in March quarter profit late Thursday. The company's shares ended the week 1% lower.

Data released Friday showed Singapore's retail sales rose 2.1% on a year-on-year basis in March primarily due to an increase in motor vehicle and fuel sales, according to the department of statistics.

Malaysia's index gained 0.5% on week. The nation's central bank Friday kept the benchmark policy interest rate unchanged at 3% as expected as it sees the recent rise in inflation moderating in the second half of 2017. Bank Negara Malaysia has kept interest rates unchanged since July 2016 when it unexpectedly cut the policy rate by 25 basis points.

In the rest of Southeast Asia, gauges for Thailand and the Philippines fell 1.4% and 0.7%, while Vietnam's index slipped 0.1%. Indonesia's gauge added 0.4% this week.

-- 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.

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