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Nikkei Markets

Asian stocks decline despite optimism over US-China trade deal

Tencent, WH Group drag down A300 index

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian equities outside of Japan fell Tuesday, dragged down by Tencent Holdings and other heavyweight stocks, even as China's Commerce Ministry added to optimism the U.S. and China are nearing a trade deal.

The Nikkei Asia300 index slid 0.3% to 1,319.43. Tencent declined 0.9%, WH Group fell 2.3%, and AIA Group ended 0.9% lower.

Earlier in the day, China's commerce ministry said that top negotiators from China and U.S. discussed core issues and reached a consensus on how to resolve them. The ministry added that the officials will maintain contact on the remaining issues in an attempt to reach an interim trade deal.

The statement provided another reason for investors to bet that the two countries are making progress toward a deal that could help in ending the long-running trade conflict. On Sunday, China had issued guidelines on strengthening intellectual property protection, addressing one of the key demands of Washington.

All the three major U.S. indexes closed at record highs yesterday.

Meanwhile, shares of Alibaba Group Holding opened for trading in Hong Kong at HK$187 on Tuesday compared with the offering price of HK$176. The Chinese e-commerce major had raised 88 billion Hong Kong dollars ($11.3 billion) from its offering. The shares closed the day at HK$187.60.

Bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing closed 0.4% lower after advancing by as much as 1.8% in early minutes following Alibaba's trading debut.

In other movers on the A300, Zee Entertainment Enterprises tumbled 7%. The Indian media company's Chairman Subhash Chandra stepped down yesterday.

Olam International added 0.5%. The Singaporean company said Tuesday it agreed to sell the real estate assets of its onion and garlic processing facility in California to a Chicago-based investment management firm. The agricultural major will book a one-time pre-tax capital profit of approximately $97 million from the transaction.

Telekom Malaysia advanced 4.3%. The telecom operator reported a net profit for the third quarter compared with a loss a year earlier.

Sime Darby rose 0.4%. The Malaysian conglomerate reported Tuesday that its first-quarter net profit increased 9.3% from a year earlier.

--Nimesh Vora

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