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Nikkei Markets

Asian stocks fall on China growth concerns to end week lower

Motherson Sumi climbs amid merger report, while Jollibee rises on takeover of Smashburger

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan fell Friday and ended the week lower, as weaker-than-expected Chinese economic data fueled concerns of a slowdown in the region's largest economy.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index lost 1.5% to 1,206.92 on Friday after China's retail sales and industrial output missed expectations. Data showed retail sales in China rose 8.1% last month, slowing from October's 8.6% and missing the 8.8% growth expected by economists in a Reuters poll. Industrial output increased 5.4% in November from a year ago. Economists polled by Reuters were expecting a growth of 5.9%, the same pace as in October.

The numbers "show an economy that is under pressure on both the external and domestic front, with policy efforts to shore up growth still falling short," Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note.

With Friday's losses, the Nikkei's gauge for Asia slipped 0.7% for the week. Markets have been watching developments between the U.S. and China amid signs that trade tensions between the two nations may be easing. News this week that Meng Wanzhou, an executive at Chinese telecommunications-equipment maker Huawei Technologies, had been released on bail following her arrest on Dec. 1 also helped boost sentiment.

"Even if China and the U.S. can negotiate a lasting truce on trade, cooling global growth and the lagged impact of slowing credit growth will remain a headwind on economic activity in the coming months," Evans-Pritchard wrote. "We expect this to trigger further policy easing, including cuts to benchmark lending rates."

Investors await further cues on policy support in China, with the Central Economic Work Conference, an annual event on Beijing's policy outlook, reportedly due to take place next week.

Heavyweight Samsung Electronics lost 4.9% this week, logging its fifth weekly loss. The consumer electronics major this week said it will stop operations at a mobile phone manufacturing plant in the Chinese city of Tianjin amid efforts to enhance efficiency. The stock fell 2.6% on Friday.

Social media and gaming major Tencent Holdings ended the week 0.6% lower, led by a 3.1% decline on Friday. On Wednesday, the company's music and entertainment unit Tencent Music went public in the U.S. after raising $1.1 billion from an initial public offering. Tencent on Thursday announced plans to pay a special dividend of about HK$250 million ($32 million)following the listing.

Among other heavyweights, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing rose 0.7% during the week, while pan-Asia insurer AIA Group climbed 1.6%. On Friday, TSMC fell 1.5% and AIA slipped 0.9%.

Motherson Sumi Systems climbed 3.2% in Mumbai on Friday. The auto parts maker is in early-stage talks with German peer Leoni over a possible combination of the two companies, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing two people close to the matter.

Philippine fast-food major Jollibee Foods added 1.2% in Manila. The company on Friday said its unit has acquired the remaining 15% stake it did not own in U.S. hamburger chain Smashburger for $10 million.

Indian mobile phone operator Bharti Airtel climbed 5.3% on Friday after the nation's Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal on Thursday set aside the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's rule on predatory pricing.

PTT Exploration and Production declined 3.2% in Bangkok. The company has won the production and development rights for the Erawan and Bongkot petroleum concessions in the Gulf of Thailand.

--Suzannah Benjamin

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