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Nikkei Asia300 Index little changed as tech firms gain, offsetting weak energy stocks

PetroChina, CNOOC, SK Innovation all drop after Brent crude eases

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan ended little changed as a rebound in technology heavyweights offset a fall in energy producers after Brent crude prices dropped to their lowest in more than a month.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index ended almost unchanged at 1,354.36. H-shares of PetroChina dropped 1.3% and CNOOC slipped 0.8%, while South Korea's SK Innovation shed 2.6% and Malaysia's Sapura Energy slumped 20.3% after Brent crude lost more than 2.5% to hit its lowest level since early November. Sapura also swung to a third-quarter net loss as business activity slowed and certain rigs went off contract.

The losses in crude prices came despite risks of increasing tensions in the Middle East after U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Trump decided to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, notwithstanding intense opposition from Arab and Muslim nations.

The S&P 500 Index ended little changed overnight, hovering near one-week lows. The higher closing on the tech-dominated Nasdaq Composite lifted Asian technology stocks. Hong Kong-listed WeChat app maker Tencent Holdings added 3.3%, and Samsung Electronics rose 1.4%.

Taiwan's United Microelectronics dropped 2.3% after the integrated circuit provider said it is being sued by U.S.-listed Micron technology over a trade secret infringement. United Microelectronics said it will appoint a legal counsel to protect its interest and goodwill.

HTC declined 2.4% after the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer said November sales declined by 26%.

Korea Electric Power advanced 1%. The company was picked a preferred bidder for Toshiba's nuclear project in the U.K, Reuters reported.

India's Tata Motors climbed 1.4% after the company said sales volumes of its U.K. unit Jaguar Land Rover rose 10% last month.

Great Wall Motor's H-shares lost 1.8% after reporting a 1.5% increase in November auto sales, lower than the 3% in the prior month.

Malaysian pay-TV operator Astro Malaysia Holdings slipped 1.1% after reporting a decline of 3% in net profit for its third quarter, worse than market expectations.

Singapore Exchange edged higher by 0.1% after falling earlier in the day. The bourse operator late Wednesday reported a 3% decline in total securities market turnover for November.

In country indexes compiled by Nikkei, China added 0.7%, while South Korea declined 0.8%. Taiwan and Hong Kong dropped 0.3% each, and India added 1.1%.

The Nikkei Asia300 ASEAN Index of Southeast Asian companies lost 0.3%.

--Nimesh Vora

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