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Nikkei Markets

Asia stocks decline as Tencent, Celltrion slide

Soft Jaguar Land Rover sales in October weigh on Tata Motors

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan fell Monday, with heavyweight Tencent Holdings dropping on caution ahead of its quarterly earnings and Chinese lenders slipping amid policy concerns.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index declined 0.6% to 1,196.22 after changing direction at least eight times. Tencent Holdings, the most valuable company listed in Hong Kong, slid 3.1% to its lowest closing level this month ahead of its third-quarter results due Wednesday. Investors are likely to watch for the impact of policy restrictions on its online gaming business. South Korean biopharmaceutical company Celltrion tumbled 12% after reporting a 44.2% slump in its operating profit for the July-September quarter.

The losses reflect a wait-and-watch approach ahead of key events related to the Sino-American trade war and U.S. interest rates. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will be attending an ASEAN summit in Singapore this week, while President Xi Jinping will meet his American counterpart Donald Trump at the G-20 summit in Argentina later in the month. Some Federal Reserve officials are also due to speak this week.

U.S. retail inflation numbers for October will be released on Wednesday, and the monthly retail sales data on Thursday.

"U.S. Inflation data later this week will probably be of more interest than retail sales figures, with the main market risk of a higher core consumer price index print adding to concerns the Fed may be on a 'higher for longer' or 'higher and faster' trajectory than the one priced in by markets," Robert Carnell, economist at ING Asia, wrote in a note.

Chinese banks edged lower while investors digested state media reports citing mainland regulators as saying that a push to boost private sector lending will not involve setting specific targets for each bank and will not supersede appropriate due diligence. Lenders had dropped late last week after China Banking & Insurance Regulatory Commission Chairman Guo Shuqing called for an increase in credit support for the private sector. Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) shed 0.9% and Bank of Communications gave up 0.8% in Hong Kong trading.

Dongfeng Motor Group fell 2.2% after reporting a 4.8% decline in October sales volume.

Sapura Energy ended 1.3% higher in Kuala Lumpur after rising as much as 8% earlier. The Malaysian oil-and-gas services company on Friday said it agreed to sell a 50% stake in its upstream unit to an Austrian company for up to $975 million in cash.

Tata Motors fell 4.8% in Mumbai. Its luxury vehicle unit Jaguar Land Rover on Friday reported a 4.6% decline in October retail sales from a year earlier.

Lupin added 0.7% after the drugmaker said a U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation of its facility in the central Indian city of Nagpur was completed successfully.

Coal India was down 1.5% ahead of its results for the September quarter.

Singapore's largest lender DBS Group Holdings fell 0.9%. The bank and Indonesia's ride-hailing service Go-Jek said on Monday they would work together on payment services ahead of Go-Jek's arrival in Singapore.

Smaller rival United Overseas Bank lost 0.7% after saying separately that it will tie up with Grab to provide financial services to the Singapore-based ride-hailing company's customers across Southeast Asia. In return, Grab will be able to use UOB's payment systems in its app and tap the lender as a credit card partner in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

--Suzannah Benjamin

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