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Asia300

Nikkei Asia300 Index extends gains after US Fed minutes, robust data

MUMBAI (NewsRise) - Asian stocks rose Thursday, helped by a clutch of upbeat data from major economies that improved global sentiment and as U.S. Treasury yields and the dollar gave up some recent gains after the Federal Reserve's December meeting minutes.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index rose 0.9% to 1,051.46 points. PetroChina and China Petroleum & Chemical (Sinopec) advanced at least 3% each on the bank of an overnight bounce in crude prices, contributing significantly to gains on the gauge.

The U.S. central bank, which raised rates and indicated more increases in 2017 at its December meeting, released minutes of the review yesterday. The minutes showed policymakers believed that faster economic growth under the Donald Trump administration will warrant higher interest rates. However, they said it was too early to tell how changes in polices would alter economic outlook and most members reiterated that a gradual pace of rate increases remains appropriate.

Regional markets rose after the U.S. dollar index, which had risen to 14-year highs on Tuesday, slumped half a percent Wednesday and was last down 0.4%. U.S. 10-year bond yields were down two basis points in Asian trade, hovering near two-week lows.

The minutes gave a boost to already-upbeat trading in Asia, which started on a positive note this year after data showed manufacturing activity from China, the U.S. and euro zone picked up in December.

The Nikkei Asia300 China Index rose 1.4% to 1,015.47 points.

A private survey showed China's services sector rose to a 17-month high last month, adding to hopes Asia's largest economy continues to stabilize. China's Markit/Caixin services purchasing managers' index rose to 53.4 in December, from 53.1 the previous month.

The yuan traded in Hong Kong surged for a second straight day on speculation authorities were restricting supply to lend support to the currency amid concern about capital outflows.

Hong Kong's gauge jumped 1.5% to 990.88 points. Heavyweight Tencent Holdings advanced over 2%. According to media reports, the company has tied up with Thai startup Ookbee to launch a digital content platform and was part of a group that invested $215 million in Chinese bike-sharing startup Mobike.

The Nikkei Asia300 South Korea Index slipped 1% to 1,097.52, dragged down by a 1.7% slide in heavyweight Samsung Electronics. Samsung Heavy Industries jumped over 5% Thursday after it said it won a contract worth 1.5 trillion won from BP.

Taiwan's gauge rose 0.6% to 1,147.16 points. Data released today showed the nation's retail inflation rose 1.7% in December, slowing from November's 1.97% advance.

Malaysia's index rose 0.6% to 949.96 points, while Thailand's added 0.5% to 1,170.19.

The Nikkei Asia300 Philippines Index jumped 2.6% to 987.96 points, while Singapore's gauge added 2.1% to 999.52 points.

India's index rose 1.3% to 1,018.50 points. Tata Steel and metal producer Vedanta gained 3.5% and 4.7% respectively. The overnight jump in oil prices lifted Oil & Natural Gas Corp nearly 3% Thursday. Indian Oil rose 2.6%.

--Dhanya Ann Thoppil

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