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Equities

Hong Kong shares rise for third straight day

Tencent closes in on record high; China Construction Bank drives H-share index gains

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares climbed for a third consecutive day on Monday, with improved sentiment driving broad market gains on easing concerns about a global trade war and upbeat U.S. economic data.

The Hang Seng Index ended the day 1.9% higher at 31,594.33, its first three-day winning streak since mid-February. Index heavyweight Tencent Holdings jumped 2.9% to HK$460, its highest level for the day and within 4% of the all-time high it reached in January. Shenzhen-listed Beijing Enlight Media said the internet major's affiliate Linzhi Tencent Technology will buy its 27.64% stake in television production company New Classics Media for 3.3 billion yuan ($521.2 million). Enlight Media shares gained 2% in mainland trading.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of large mainland companies listed in Hong Kong added 2.1%, with Air China rallying 4.9%, the most in two weeks. China Construction Bank (CCB) jumped 3.7% and Ping An Insurance Group 2.7%, pacing gains by mainland financial companies.

Sentiment around the Asia-Pacific region appeared to improve on solid cues from the U.S. after data released on Friday showed the world's largest economy added more jobs than expected in February. Fears over a faster-than-expected pace of rate increases by the U.S. Federal Reserve took a backseat as average hourly earnings rose 0.1% last month, slower than January's 0.3% increase, allaying fears about inflation.

"Many negative factors are diminishing. So in the short-term, prior to next week's Fed meeting, Hong Kong equities will likely continue to rebound," said Will Leung, head of investment strategy at the wealth management unit of Standard Chartered Hong Kong. He expects the Hang Seng Index to test 32,000.

Global equities recovered last week after U.S. President Donald Trump announced certain exemptions to upcoming import tariffs on steel and aluminum, and separately also agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May.

Equity gauges in the rest of the region rose, helping to send the Nikkei Asia300 Index of regional stocks outside Japan 1.6% higher.

In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.6%, while the yuan traded onshore strengthened 0.1% to 6.3233 against the U.S. dollar.

Italian luxury goods maker Prada jumped 15% in Hong Kong, its biggest single-day percentage gain since October 2011. A "mid-to-high single-digit" sales growth in 2018 was reasonable, Chief Financial Officer Alessandra Cozzani was cited as saying by Reuters. The company late on Friday reported a 4.3% decline in pro-forma net income for the 12 months ended December 2017.

Diversified conglomerate Wheelock gained 0.9%. The company reported a 26.2% increase in 2017 net profit during Monday's midday trading break, helped by gains from the revaluation of its investment properties.

Property developer Agile Group Holdings increased 3.5% after saying, also during the noon break, that it expects its 2017 net profit to rise more than 150% from a year earlier.

CITIC advanced 0.4% in the upbeat market. The gains came even as the Chinese conglomerate said on Sunday that it will likely recognize an impairment of $800 million to $1 billion in its 2017 accounts toward its Sino Iron project in western Australia.

Apple supplier Sunny Optical Technology Group, which jumped 11.7% last week, added 0.6% after reporting a 31.9% increase in handset lens set shipment volumes for February. AAC Technologies Holdings, which also supplies parts to the iPhone maker, gained 0.8%.

China Resources Cement Holdings climbed 4.9% on its expectations for a "significant increase" in group net profit for the quarter ending March 31, after higher cement prices helped it to more than double its profit last year. The company's net profit for 2017 soared about 173% to 3.62 billion Hong Kong dollars ($461.9 million).

China Child Care tumbled 4.1% after saying it expects a loss for 2017. The personal-care products maker also reported a loss in 2016.

CSPC Pharmaceutical Group rose 4.1% after its drug butylphthalide -- used to treat muscle-related disorder Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS -- was granted orphan drug status by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Orphan drugs in the U.S. are entitled to seven years of exclusive market rights, CSPC said.

-- Amy Lam

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