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Asia300

Nikkei Asia300 Index advances for fourth month

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan climbed for a fourth straight month in April, though most regional markets declined Friday ahead of a long weekend and as investors considered a raft of earnings.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index slipped 0.3%, or 3.32 points, to 1,189.14 on Friday, trimming its April advance to 1.9%. The 316-member benchmark has risen more than 2% over the past week as investors lauded the outcome of the first round of French presidential elections, where pro-European Union candidate Emmanuel Macron emerged victorious, easing concerns about the future of the bloc. Gains sustained even as a lack of detail in the U.S. government's heavily anticipated tax reform plan spooked markets. The gauge is up more than 15% in 2017 to date.

Regional indexes for Hong Kong and the Philippines paced declines on Friday. Several large-cap companies edged lower in Hong Kong, with China Construction Bank, China Life Insurance and Ping An Insurance Group dropping despite posting an increase in quarterly profits. PetroChina, which swung back to profits in the first quarter, and China Petroleum & Chemical (Sinopec), which reported a surge in earnings from a low base in the year-ago period, fell less than 1% each.

Great Wall Motor tumbled 5.5% after saying its January-March profit fell 18%. China Eastern Airlines lost 3.1% despite a jump in investment income helping improve its earnings.

Elsewhere, Indofood Sukses Makmur, Indonesia's largest food company, fell 0.9% despite a 11% increase in quarterly profits. Over in Mumbai, Maruti Suzuki India, the nation's largest carmaker, climbed 2.4% a day after reporting a nearly 16% growth in fiscal fourth quarter net income.

AU Optronics ended unchanged in Taipei even as the liquid crystal display maker swung back to a quarterly profit. Hon Hai Precision climbed 0.5% to NT$98.80. The stock had neared NT$100 earlier in the day following news that group chairman Terry Gou had visited the White House, although it wasn't clear if he met President Donald Trump.

The Nikkei regional index for Indonesia fell 0.5% and that for India slipped 0.2%, while the gauge for Taiwan closed little changed. The Nikkei country index for Indonesia weakened 0.5%. Country indexes for China and Thailand dropped 0.5% or more, while those for Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam increased.

-- 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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