HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside Japan rose for a fifth day in a row, led by Hong Kong-listed companies, amid optimism over earnings, even as investors appeared to be cautious over the U.S. government's planned tax reforms.
The Nikkei Asia300 Index rose 0.2% to 1,192.46. AIA Group surged 6.2% to an all-time high in Hong Kong after reporting a 55% jump in the value of new business - a key metric for insurers - during the first quarter, helped by rapid expansion in China. The Nikkei Asia300 Hong Kong Index added 1.4%, with internet major Tencent Holdings also climbing to a record. Index heavyweight Samsung Electronics advanced 2.4% in Seoul. The company, which reported its best quarterly profit since 2013 thanks to a memory-chip boom, said it expected earnings to improve further in the current quarter.
Stocks edged higher after a tentative start on Thursday following a cool response on Wall Street to the keenly awaited tax proposals that U.S. President Donald Trump's administration introduced overnight. While the proposals include a plan to slash corporate tax rates to 15% and a simplification of personal income tax rules, several analysts viewed the one-page document unveiled by officials as lacking in detail and wondered whether the plan could be realized without widening the nation's fiscal deficit.
"Sceptics are arguing that the U.S. administration runs the risk of falling foul of revenue neutrality, of struggling to get its reforms through Congress this year and even of managing only a temporary tax cut which could be reversed by a future government," Rabobank analysts wrote in a report.
Casino shares in Hong Kong gave up most of the previous day's gains, with Sands China sliding 3.5% after posting a smaller-than-expected increase in first-quarter net income, while Galaxy Entertainment Group shed 2.6%. China Telecom ended unchanged after reporting a 4.5% increase in first-quarter net profit on Thursday.
The country index for South Korea climbed 0.4%. The nation's gross domestic product grew 0.9% in the first quarter from the previous three months, the central bank estimated on Thursday, accelerating on strong exports and capital investment. Lotte Shopping jumped 5.3% after its parent group said Wednesday that four of the group's businesses, including Lotte Shopping, will be split into operating and holding companies as part of a restructuring.
Regional Nikkei index for Taiwan rose 0.3% and that for Malaysia gained 0.6%. Gauges for Indonesia and the Philippines lost 0.9% or more, sending the broader ASEAN index down 0.4%. The Nikkei Asia300 India index slipped 0.1%.
-- 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.