HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares jumped on Thursday, recuperating from losses accumulated earlier in the week, as China reported upbeat trade data and U.S. President Donald Trump's administration hinted that some of the country's trading partners may be exempted from planned import tariffs.
The Hang Seng Index rose 1.5% to 30,654.52, with all 50 of its constituents rising. The gauge is now up 0.2% for the week. Insurer AIA Group climbed 3% and was the biggest contributor by points to the index's gains. Heavyweights Tencent Holdings, Ping An Insurance Group and China Mobile advanced 2%, 2.8% and 1.8%, respectively. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of large mainland companies listed in the city rose 1.3%.
Government data released earlier on Thursday showed China's exports rose 44.5% in February from a year earlier, easily beating estimates compiled by Reuters. Imports increased 6.3% during the month. U.S. government officials signaled on Wednesday that import tariffs planned by the U.S. may exempt Canada and Mexico, among other countries. They did not mention China.
"We expect the favorable external setting to continue to support China's exports in 2018," Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics, wrote in a note. "Trade friction with the U.S. will rise, but we do not expect a full-blown trade war."
The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.5% in mainland trading, while the Shenzhen Composite Index climbed 1%. The yuan traded onshore weakened 0.2% against the U.S. dollar to 6.3351.
Stocks also climbed in the wider Asia region, with the Nikkei Asia300 Index of companies outside Japan jumping 1.4%.
Shares of property major Wharf Holdings, which is controlled by conglomerate Wheelock, climbed 0.7%. During Thursday's midday break, the company reported a 2% increase in net profit for 2017 as higher prices boosted the value of its property holdings.
PAX Global Technology, a provider of electronic payment terminals, fell 1.6% after reporting a more than 32% drop in last year's net profit from the year before.
Shares of CEFC Hong Kong Financial Investment tumbled 6.3%, extending losses this month to 43%. Recent media reports have said that Chinese businessman Ye Jianming, chairman of CEFC China Energy, has been detained for questioning in China. CEFC Hong Kong Financial said last week that Ye does not hold any directorship or other position in any member of the group and is not involved in the management of the group's operations.
OP Financial Investments gained 1.6% to HK$3.71 after the company agreed to issue 300 million new shares at HK$3.33 each.
-- Amy Lam