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Nikkei Markets

Asian stocks extend gains on upbeat China economic data

Ping An Insurance, Reliance Industries among winners on A300

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside Japan extended gains on Friday after upbeat Chinese economic data.

The Nikkei Asia300 index advanced 0.3% to 1,428.89, adding to its similar gain in the previous session.

China's industrial output increased by 6.9% in December from a year earlier and better than the 5.9% growth expected by economists polled by Reuters. Retail sales climbed 8% year-on-year beating forecasts of a 7.8% growth. Another set of data released on Friday showed that the nation's economy grew by 6% in the December quarter from a year earlier, the same as in the previous three months and in line with market expectations.

"Following a slowdown in 2018 and much of 2019, GDP growth stabilized at 6% year-on-year in fourth quarter. Momentum in industrial value added, exports and investment improved in Q4 and was better in December than in November, while consumption growth held up," Louis Kuijs, the head of Asia Economics at Oxford Economics, said. "Sluggish global growth will continue to challenge the external outlook, but we expect the phase-one deal with the U.S. to have a favorable impact on exports and support domestic sentiment and confidence."

The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.6% following the data before closing little changed. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, an index of Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong, ended 0.8% higher. Ping An Insurance Group jumped 4.3%.

Electric car maker BYD advanced 5.5% to take its weekly advance to about 24%. Earlier this week, China's Minister of Industry and Information Technology indicated that there won't be another round of subsidy cuts for new electric vehicles after July 1, 2020.

A300 heavyweight Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing climbed to record highs on Friday before closing 0.4% lower. The world's biggest contract chipmaker late yesterday reported fourth-quarter net profit that beat estimates.

Chinese mobile gaming major Tencent Holdings dropped 0.3% and China Life Insurance slipped 0.7%.

Hong Kong flagship carrier Cathay Pacific Airways declined 1.6% after reporting a 3.6% drop in total passengers carried during December.

Reliance Industries, the sixth highest weighted stock on the A300, added 2.8%. The Indian petrochemical-to-telecom conglomerate is scheduled to report earnings later Friday.

Vodafone Idea tumbled 25.2% and Bharti Airtel added 5.5%. India's top court late Thursday dismissed a review petition filed by the two Indian telecom companies seeking relief on adjusted gross revenue liabilities that they are due to pay the government in a week's time.

"The verdict may put a severe burden on telcos and have unconceivable repercussions, particularly against the backdrop of Vodafone Idea facing a risk of shutdown," broker Motilal Oswal said. Bharti Airtel is well prepared along with Reliance Jio Inforcomm, the telecom unit of Reliance Industries, to add to its market share at the cost of Vodafone Idea, it said.

-- Nimesh Vora

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