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Nikkei Markets

Asian shares rise despite weaker exports data from China

Energy company stocks outperform after Brent crude jumps

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside of Japan advanced Monday as investors assessed an upbeat U.S. jobs report and an unexpected contraction in Chinese exports.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index of companies outside Japan rose 0.3% to 1,311.26.

On Friday, data showed that the U.S. labor market remained on a firm footing. U.S. employers added 266,000 jobs last month, better than the 180,000 expected by economists polled by Reuters. Moreover, jobs created for October were revised higher and the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%.

The report comes ahead of the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting that begins Tuesday. The central bank is expected to keep the rates unchanged at the monetary policy review. DBS Bank said that there will be less pressure on the Fed to cuts rates after Friday's job data and that the central bank will "be comfortable with its pause stance."

Meanwhile, data released on Sunday revealed that China's exports declined last month. The country's dollar-denominated exports fell 1.1% In November from a year earlier, compared to a 1% increase expected by economists polled by Reuters. Imports were up 0.3% year-on-year.

"Exports continued to languish last month and the pick-up in headline import growth reflects base effects rather than stronger domestic demand," Capital Economics said in a note. "Looking ahead, we think that subdued global growth will keep the export growth weak. The tariff rollbacks that may form part of the phase-one trade deal won't materially alter the outlook."

The offshore Chinese yuan dropped Monday and the Shanghai Composite edged higher.

On the phase-one trade deal, top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told Bloomberg Television on Friday that officials were talking round the clock and that two countries were attempting to agree on the quantum of American agricultural purchases by China.

In movers on the A300 on Monday, energy shares outperformed after Brent crude on Friday reached its highest in more than two months. OPEC and allies officially agreed on Friday to cut production by an additional 500,000 barrels per day beginning next month.

PetroChina added 1.4%, South Korea's SK Innovation advanced 2.8%, and Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production rose 1.7%.

Guangzhou Automobile Group slipped 0.9% after the Chinese carmaker said total sales in November declined 4.3% on-year. BYD climbed 0.3% despite the Chinese electric carmaker reporting a 19% fall in November sales.

Hong Kong property developers ended mixed after a survey showed that fewer respondents were bearish on their outlook for Hong Kong home prices in the fourth quarter of 2019 than in the preceding three months. The number of respondents who expect home prices in the former British colony to decline over the next twelve months slumped to 46% during the October-December quarter, down from 56% in the three months ended Sep. 30, according to the survey results released Monday.

Sun Hung Kai Properties rose 0.4% and New World Development climbed 0.4% while Hang Lung Properties slipped 0.4%.

--Nimesh Vora

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