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Nikkei Markets

Asian stocks gain as G7 finance chiefs move to tackle epidemic

Technology shares among top performers on A300 index

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside of Japan extended gains on Tuesday ahead of a conference call by G7 finance ministers and central bank chiefs to discuss the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

An unexpected rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia also boosted risk appetite.

The Nikkei Asia300 index of companies outside Japan rose 0.6% to 1,292.46, adding to yesterday's 0.9% advance. The gauge has now managed to recover a portion of its more-than-6% slump of last week.

Appetite for equities increased this week amid hopes of action by major central banks to alleviate the economic impact of the virus epidemic.

The Bank of Japan, the Bank of England, and the European Central Bank yesterday issued separate statements of their willingness to act in the face of the virus threat after the U.S. Federal Reserve head Jerome Powell last week signaled a rate cut at this month's meeting.

A conference call is planned for later Tuesday among central bankers and finance ministers of the G7 nations to discuss measures to tackle the widening outbreak.

Powell and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead the call, a U.S. Treasury spokeswoman reportedly said.

"By itself, the G7 response is recognition that the epidemic has reached the developed markets," DBS Group Research said in a note.

"Unfortunately, the virus is not a cyclical weakness that can be easily addressed by expanding monetary and fiscal policies."

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday unexpectedly cut the key rate by a quarter percentage points to a record low of 0.5% in the wake of the virus threat.

Technology shares were among the top performers on the A300 gauge on Tuesday. Samsung Electronics rose 0.7%, adding to yesterday's 1.5% rebound.

Shares of the South Korean technology major had fallen to their lowest this year last Friday. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing climbed 2.1% and Tencent Holdings added 1.1%.

Elsewhere, Hero MotoCorp gained 4.1%, trimming its year-to-date decline to 15.9%. The Indian two-wheeler maker reported a near 20% year-on-year drop in last month's sales volume.

Hyundai Motor slipped 0.9%. The South Korean carmaker said yesterday that global sales volumes last month declined 13% year-on-year.

Chinese conglomerate CITIC dropped 0.6%. The company entered into an agreement to sell its 42.3% shareholding in Fast Food Holdings along with outstanding shareholder loans for $533 million to CCHL Fast Food Holdings.

Fast Food Holdings owns 52% in Grand Foods Holdings, which is the holding company of McDonald's mainland China and Hong Kong businesses.

Malaysia's benchmark equity gauge advanced 0.8%. The country's central bank on Tuesday cut the key policy rate by quarter percentage points to 2.50% - the lowest level in a decade.

--Nimesh Vora

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