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Nikkei Markets

Asian stocks extend gains after Wall Street rebound

Wheelock rises after 2018 results, while China Steel up on Feb sales

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares rose on Tuesday after an overnight rally on Wall Street, with the latest U.S. economic data allaying fears of a downturn.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index of companies outside Japan added 1.3% to 1,311.55, adding to yesterday's 0.7% advance.

Regional equities were boosted by a 1.5% rally for the S&P 500 Index on Monday. The bounce followed better-than-expected U.S. retail sales for January, which helped ease concerns over a global economic slowdown. Retail sales in the world's largest economy rose 0.2% month-on-month in January, compared with an unchanged reading expected by economists in a Reuters poll. Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, the so-called control retail sales, rose 1.1% compared with a forecast for 0.6%.

Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG Asia, pointed out that the control retail sales numbers were particularly relevant to expectations regarding U.S. gross domestic product. She said the better-than-forecast number had helped dismiss last week's growth concerns "to an extent."

Global growth outlook was on investors' minds last week after the European Central Bank cut its growth forecast for the current year and U.S. headline payroll data missed expectations. The S&P 500 fell 2.2% last week, suffering its worst weekly loss of the year amid those worries.

Risk sentiment on Tuesday received a further boost after the European Commission agreed to changes to the Brexit deal ahead of a vote by the British parliament on the terms on which the U.K. will leave the European Union.

Chinese insurers, energy companies and lenders were among the biggest contributors to the A300's advance on Tuesday. The Hong Kong shares of Ping An Insurance Group added 2.1% ahead of its annual results, and China Life Insurance climbed 1.9%. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China led banks higher, adding 1.7%. Chine Petroleum & Chemical, up 2%, paced advances in energy after Brent crude climbed towards $67 a barrel.

An index of Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, climbed 1.7%. Over in the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index closed 1.1% higher.

Hong Kong-based diversified conglomerate Wheelock & Co. advanced 1.4% after reporting a smaller-than-expected 16% decline in 2018 net profit. Net profit for the year ended Dec. 31 came in at HK$17.24 billion ($2.20 billion), better than the HK$15.32 billion analysts polled by Refinitiv were expecting.

Wilmar International advanced 1.3%. The Singaporean-listed agribusiness group entered into a share purchase agreement to acquire 50% balance shareholding interest in FPW Singapore Holdings for $180 million.

Singapore Airlines edged 0.3% lower. The carrier on Tuesday said that customers of regional subsidiary SilkAir may be affected by the government's decision to ban carriers from flying Boeing 737 Max aircraft in and out of the city-state. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore's decision was in light of two fatal accidents involving Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in less than five months.

Taiwan-listed China Steel Corp. advanced 1.6% after reporting a 2.1% increase in February sales.

-- Nimesh Vora

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