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Nikkei Markets

Asian stocks post weekly gains as bargain hunters buy in

Chinese lender ICBC advances after last week's losses, Tencent extends weekly rise

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan rose Friday to end the week higher as investors appeared to snap up attractively priced shares even as a trade spat between the U.S. and China intensified.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index rose 1.5% to 1,316.24 on Friday, and 1.6% for the week. Tencent Holdings has climbed 1.3% since last Friday, capping a second weekly gain, while Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, which fell 2.7% last week, ended this week 4.6% higher. Tencent and ICBC rose 3.1% and 3.2% on Friday.

Global stocks retreated earlier this week, reacting to U.S. President Donald Trump's plan to levy a 10% import tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods. Equity indexes recovered soon after the announcement, however, as investors sought bargains and took comfort from a lower-than-indicated tariff rate. Still, caution prevails as Washington has said it will increase the levy to 25% next year. Beijing has introduced retaliatory tariffs on U.S. shipments.

Nikkei's country gauge for China rose 2.6% on Friday, while the yuan traded onshore strengthened 0.3% against the dollar to 6.8342.

"Washington and Beijing have and will continue to agree to disagree on trade," Philip Wee, a foreign-exchange strategist at DBS Bank, wrote in a note. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's pledge not to weaken the exchange rate to boost exports has helped prevent a selloff in the yuan, he said.

Even so, "China's policy responses to cushion the economy from increased trade tensions would not stop growth from slowing and its current account and fiscal balances from weakening," Wee said.

China is planning to cut average tariff rates on imports from a majority of its trading partners as soon as next month, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing two people familiar with the matter. The report said it was not clear how the move would affect imports from the U.S., if at all.

Friday's gains in Asia came after two major U.S. equity indexes ended at record highs overnight, while the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, was last up 0.1% after falling 0.7% Thursday.

New World Development jumped 5.8% in Hong Kong on Friday. The property major plans invest between HK$15 billion ($1.91 billion) and HK$17 billion over the next year to acquire land in the Greater Bay Area, a company official said on Thursday after it reported a tripling of its full-year net profit.

Chipmaker SK Hynix fell 3% in Seoul. The decline came after U.S.-listed chipmaker Micron Technology forecast first-quarter revenue that was below market expectations and said U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods would weigh on its earnings for up to a year.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing climbed 0.6% in Taipei, while Largan Precision advanced 1.8%.

South Korean mobile-messenger operator Kakao advanced 0.9%. Gains for the company, which is a shareholder in internet-only Kakao Bank, came after the nation's parliament amended a law to allow non-financial firms to have up to a 34% stake in internet-only banks, Reuters reported. Earlier, non-financial companies could own up to 10% stakes in such banks.

Mahindra and Mahindra rose 1.1% in Mumbai. The company plans to introduce bigger sports utility vehicles and multi-purpose vehicles to avoid a foray into the crowded market for compact SUVs, Mint newspaper reported, citing four people aware of the plans.

-- Suzannah Benjamin

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