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Asia300

Nikkei Asia300 Index rises as investors shift focus to ECB

Risk appetite is growing ahead of key policy meetings

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Asian stocks extended gains Wednesday, as a recovery in risk appetite boosted global indexes ahead of year-end central bank meetings in Europe and the United States.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index rose 0.3% to 1,049.68 Wednesday, adding 3.4 points. Hong Kong's Great Wall Motor, Samsung Electronics, Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) and Ping An Insurance Group contributed significantly to gains.

Global markets this week shrugged off Italy's weekend vote against constitutional reform and the subsequent resignation of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, with European indexes on course for a third session of gains and U.S. gauges at or near record highs. Investors are now focusing on the European Central Bank's policy review tomorrow and the Federal Reserve's meeting next week.

The Nikkei Asia300 China Index rose 0.5% to 1,024.30. Chinese insurers rose tracking gains in government bond yields. Yield on China's 10-year benchmark note rose for a seventh consecutive session Wednesday. Ping An Insurance and China Life Insurance rose 0.8% and 2.4% in Shenzhen.

Insurers were also boosted following a move by Chinese regulators to suspend sales of so-called universal life policies by Foresea Life, a unit of Baoneng Group, and Evergrande Life, to contain financial risks.

Data released Wednesday showed China's foreign exchange reserves in November fell by a wider-than-expected $69.06 billion to near six-year lows. The yuan traded onshore fell 0.1% to 6.8831 against the dollar.

Hong Kong's gauge slipped 0.2% to 1,001.35. ZTE, which rose over 3% Tuesday after it said it will buy a 48% equity interest in Turkey's Netas Telekomunikasyon, fell 1.4% to HK$12.38 today. Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing slipped for a fourth consecutive session, losing 1.4% to HK$193.60. The city-listed Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) and China Petroleum & Chemical (Sinopec), both also listed in Shenzhen, rose 0.9% and 0.9%.

The Nikkei Asia300 South Korea Index rose 0.8% to 1,103.83, tracking its regional peers and as heavyweight Samsung Electronics surged to fresh record highs. The smartphone maker's shares rose 1.4% to 1.772 million won after the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in its favor in a patent battle with Apple, quashing an appeals court ruling that had asked Samsung to pay $399 million in penalties to Apple.

Indonesia's index ended little changed at 1,189.89. A 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit the northern province of Aceh early Wednesday, killing at least 50.

Malaysia's index rose 0.5% to 945.11, tracking overnight gains on Wall Street and an extended rebound in Axiata Group. Still, the mobile operator, down over 31% so far this year, remains the worst performer on the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index in 2016.

The Nikkei Asia300 Taiwan Index ended 0.3% higher at 1,147.35. Shortly after markets closed, the nation released trade data for November which showed exports rose 12.1%, their fastest pace in almost four years.

The export-reliant economy is expected to grow 1.22% in 2016, up from last year's 0.65% growth.

Shares of Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn, rose for a seventh session straight, ending 1% higher at T$81.10. Earlier Wednesday, Foxconn, a major supplier to Apple, announced it is in early talks to expand U.S. operations.

India's index fell 0.02% to 994.81 after the nation's Monetary Policy Committee stood pat on interest rates, disappointing investors hoping for a rate cut as a recent demonetization move by the government threatens to hurt growth.

Philippines' gauge rose 0.6% to 934.35, while that of Vietnam slipped 0.4% to 1,238.20.

--Dhanya Ann Thoppil

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