HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan rose on Wednesday, as regional heavyweights climbed after recent losses, even as the specter of a trade war between the world's largest economies loomed.
The Nikkei Asia300 Index added 0.8% to 1,353.08 after declining for five straight days. Heavyweights Tencent Holdings and AIA Group rose 0.9% and 2.5% in Hong Kong, also logging their first advance in six days. Still, risk sentiment remained jittery as trade relations between the U.S. and China were the main focus for markets yet again after the two nations slapped import tariffs on each other. U.S. President Donald Trump last week said Washington will levy import tariffs of $50 billion in Chinese goods and warned this week that an additional $200 billion worth of goods from the Asian nation could be subjected to a 10% import tax. China has said it will raise import tariffs on $50 billion in U.S. goods.
"Regional equity markets are faring much better as investors' emotions have tempered, but in general, markets remain in wait and see mode," Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia Pacific at Oanda, wrote in a note. "The spoils of trade war have attracted bargain hunting but completely trusting the markets in the aftermath of yesterday's meltdown is bordering on too-soon-too-quick as sentiment remains very apprehensive towards the rising risk of tariffs wars."
Cathay Pacific Airways climbed 1.2% on Wednesday. Late Tuesday, the airline reported combined Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon traffic figures for May that showed a 0.8% fall in passengers carried compared with a year earlier.
China Unicom (Hong Kong) slipped 0.4% after the mobile operator on Tuesday said it added a net 2.42 million mobile billing subscribers in May, including a net 2.07 million 4G subscribers. That is down from April, when the company added 3.07 million mobile billing subscribers and 4.06 million 4G subscribers.
Chinese telecommunications-equipment maker ZTE jumped 20%, trimming its month-to-date losses to 53.8%, after saying a defense bill that could reinstate a ban on the sale of American components to the company would only become a law if it fulfilled certain conditions. The stock had plunged nearly 25% in Hong Kong on Tuesday after the U.S. Senate voted in favor of the bill that includes a provision to restore the ban.
The Nikkei Asia300 ASEAN index for Southeast Asian companies slipped 0.1%. Data released Wednesday showed Malaysia's consumer prices rose at a marginally slower-than-expected pace in May, driven mostly by costlier food and fuel. The consumer price index - Malaysia's main gauge of inflation - rose 1.8% in May from a year earlier, according to a statement from the Department of Statistics.
--V. Phani Kumar