HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan advanced Wednesday as a weaker dollar and declining U.S. borrowing costs boosted appetite for regional assets.
The Nikkei Asia300 index rose 0.6% to 1,285.94. Tencent Holdings hit a record, advancing 3.9% to HK$298, after technology dominated Nasdaq reached all-time highs overnight. Tencen't gains were also spurred by a report that Facebook's WhatsApp, rival to Tencent WeChat messaging app, had been partly blocked in China. H-shares of China Shenhua Energy rose 4.1% and China Railway Construction Corp. climbed 2.8%, pacing advance in mainland companies. The country index of China jumped 1.5%. India's Idea Cellular rose 9% and Bharti Airtel added 3.3% after reports the two companies, along with Vodafone, have sought an increase in interconnection usage charges.
The dollar index fell to an over 10-month low overnight and U.S. bond yields softened following the failure of Republican Senate members to push through a new healthcare bill. The development is expected to delay and further complicate President Donald Trump's tax reforms and infrastructure spending.
"The dollar remains the story for now, and the move have been pushed along by a reasonable bid in U.S. fixed income, assisted by the failed healthcare reform bill," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at Melbourne-based brokerage IG.
A declining outlook for the dollar and falling U.S. borrowing costs help boost inflows into emerging markets.
Nikkei's Hong Kong index edged lower by 0.1%. Cathay Pacific Airways fell 0.6%, weighed by comments from its chief executive officer that the carrier's performance in the first half continued to be disappointing. Cathay's June passenger traffic declined by 2.1% from a year earlier.
The South Korea index added 0.5%. Korea Aerospace Industries rose 4.7%, recouping some of the losses in recent sessions triggered by allegations of corruption. Hyundai Motor rose 0.3%. The carmaker said Wednesday it will begin production at fifth factory in China in August.
The Nikkei index for Taiwan too advanced 0.5%.
The India index rose 0.5%. ITC gained 2.4%, recovering from Tuesday's more than 12% slump following an increase in taxes on cigarettes. The country's biggest consumer goods maker Hindustan Unilever fell 0.5% after reaching record highs earlier in the day. After market hours yesterday, the company reported a better-than-expected 9.3% increase in first-quarter profit, helped by cost controls and a surge in sales.
The Singapore index rose 0.9%. Singapore Telecommunications closed higher 0.5%. Its broadband unit NetLink NBN Trust debuted on the exchange, closing unchanged from its IPO price of S$0.81. The fall in U.S. bond yields lifted developers. City Developments rose 1.5% and UOL Group added 1%.
The Thailand index advanced 0.6%, led by an over 4% rally in Total Access Communication. PTT Exploration and Production fell 0.3% after the company said late Tuesday it had received a claim filed by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia seeking about $ 2.1 billion in damages. PTT said it will defend itself against the lawsuit.
The Nikkei index for Indonesia slipped 0.4% while Malaysia edged higher by 0.1%. The Philippines rose 0.2% while Vietnam ended little changed.
--Nimesh Vora and V. Phani Kumar