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Equities

Nikkei Asia300 Index near flat as Trump's immigration curbs spook investors

MUMBAI (NewsRise) - Asian stocks ended little changed in holiday-thinned trade Monday, as concerns about U.S. President Donald Trump's imposition of immigration curbs weighed on investor sentiment.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index ended 0.02% lower at 1,098.12 points. The index jumped 2.5% last week tracking robust gains in U.S. indexes. On Monday, India's Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular rose, while Thailand's largest construction material producer Siam Cement and Indian software major Tata Consultancy Services contributed to losses on the 324-stock gauge.

Late Friday, newly sworn-in President Trump closed U.S. borders to refugees and put in place a ban on citizens from seven predominantly Muslim nations, sparking widespread protests and stoking concerns about the impact of his trade policies. U.S. stock futures pointed to a lower opening on Wall Street. Disappointing U.S. fourth-quarter gross domestic product numbers and lackluster corporate earnings also weighed on sentiment.

All three U.S. benchmark indexes have soared to record highs since Trump's election amid hopes his policies will boost growth and inflation in the world's largest economy. The dollar index and U.S. Treasury yields have also risen.

Global investors await the outcome of the Bank of Japan's policy review tomorrow and the Federal Reserve's meeting later this week.

Markets in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore were closed Monday for the Lunar New Year holiday.

The Nikkei Asia 300 Philippines Index ended 0.2% lower at 1,002.47 points. Thailand's gauge shed 0.2% to end at 1,203.05, while Indonesia's index ended 0.5% lower at 1,209.42 points.

The Nikkei Asia300 India Index eked out a 0.1% to end 1,054.59 points, propped up by telecom sector stocks after Britain's Vodafone said it is in talks to merge its Indian unit with Idea Cellular in an all-share deal. Idea's shares ended 25.9% higher at 97.95 rupees after rising as much as 29% following the announcement. Top mobile operator Bharti Airtel rose 7.5% to 347.65 rupees, while Reliance Industries, which launched its telecommunications arm Jio last year, ended 1.9% higher at 1,044.15 rupees.

Top software exporter Tata Consultancy Services fell 0.9% to 2,337 rupees.

--Dhanya Ann Thoppil

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