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Nikkei Markets

Asian equities advance as IMF raises China growth projection

Chinese automakers extend gains

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside of Japan advanced Wednesday after the International Monetary Fund increased its projection for China's economic growth while reducing the forecast for the global economy.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index of companies outside Japan rose 0.3% to 1,370.37.

Asian equities gained despite worries over global economic growth and trade prompting the biggest decline on U.S. equities in two weeks on Tuesday. The 0.6% decline on the S&P 500 overnight came after another cut in world growth forecast by the IMF and amid worries that trade tensions between Europe and U.S. would escalate.

The IMF, citing trade tensions among other factors, said that it now expects the world economy to grow by 3.3% this year, down from 3.5% it previously estimated in January. Yesterday's cut was reportedly the fourth downgrade in global growth estimates by the IMF in the last nine months.

Chris Weston, the head of research at Australia-based Pepperstone Group said that "concerns of global growth are indeed back in vogue" and could lead to "de-risking." He said the IMF warnings "accelerate the thematic of slowing growth as the big headwind for markets."

Wall Street on Tuesday was further pressured by U.S. President Donald Trump's threat to impose $11 billion of tariffs on European Union imports amid a dispute over aircraft subsidies.

Meanwhile, there was a silver lining in the IMF growth report for Asia, with the organization upgrading the growth outlook for China by 0.1%. It said that China's economic prospects had improved as prospects of a trade agreement with the U.S. take shape.

Gree Electric Appliances jumped by the maximum permissible 10% in Shenzhen for a second day after saying on Monday that its single largest shareholder, state-owned Gree Group, is planning to sell a part of its stake, or 15% of total share capital, to the public. The transaction could trigger a change in the controlling shareholder and ultimate controller of the company.

Great Wall Motor led Chinese carmakers higher on Wednesday, adding 6.3%, to extend the previous day's 1.6% advance following a 16.8% jump in March sales volume. Electric carmaker BYD added 1.7% and Dongfeng Motor Group rose 2.5%. Guangzhou Automobile Group rose 3.2% after reporting on late Tuesday a less than 1% decline in total sales for March.

Lenovo Group added 6.8%. The company's handset unit Motorola plans to make India an exports hub, with shipments to Latin America and Asia Pacific starting by the end of this month, The Economic Times newspaper reported, citing a company executive.

Singapore Press Holdings, the publisher of The Straits Times newspaper, fell 2.4% after reporting a decline in second-quarter profit and revenue.

Singapore Exchange, hovering near one-month highs, closed 0.8% lower. Singapore's total securities market turnover rose 13% month-on-month in March to S$21.6 billion ($16 billion), the bourse operator said Wednesday. Total derivatives volume was up 34% on-year.

Innolux declined 1% after the Taiwanese company reported an 8.9% decline in March sales. AU Optronics slipped 1.3% following a 4.6% fall in sales for the same period. United Microelectronics dipped 0.4% after a near 17% fall in last month's sales.

--Nimesh Vora

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