HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks jumped Wednesday, led by gains in Hong Kong equities, as the city's Chief Executive Carrie Lam withdrew a controversial extradition bill that triggered weeks of unrest in the Asian financial center.
The Nikkei Asia300 Index advanced 2.2% to 1,245.32.
Hong Kong's benchmark gauge, the Hang Seng Index, surged 3.9% on Wednesday after the South China Morning Post and other media reported that Lam would withdraw the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 on Wednesday afternoon. Lam later formally withdrew the bill that triggered massive protests in the city.
The move follows 13 weeks of political unrest in Hong Kong that began in June when protesters took to the streets peacefully to demand the withdrawal of the bill. Lam had announced the suspension of the bill on Jun. 15, days after an estimated million activists staged the first in a series of mass protests.
The movement has since then evolved into a call for greater rights. The protesters' list also includes a demand that officials cancel the description of the movement as a riot, drop charges against protestors, conduct an independent committee to investigate police actions during recent clashes, and grant universal suffrage.
Hong Kong-listed property developers and retailers, among the worst hit companies over the past three months, were among the biggest gainers in the city after the news broke. Sun Hung Kai Properties, the city's largest developer by market value, jumped 9.8% and Henderson Land Development gained 8.7%, while Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group rallied 9.7%.
Hong Kong light rail operator MTR ended 6.4% higher. A number of the company's stations were damaged during the protests, and its services were disrupted from time to time over the last three months.
Cathay Pacific Airways, another company severely affected by the protests, rose 7.2%. The company in August replaced its Chief Executive Officer Rupert Hogg and Chief Customer & Commercial Officer Paul Loo, days after a Chinese regulator issued a safety risk warning to the Hong Kong carrier over its management of staff who had participated in the city's mass protests.
In the rest of Asia, Seoul-listed Samsung Electronics advanced 2%. The consumer electronics major's first foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Fold, will go on sale in South Korea on Friday, Reuters reported, citing a source with direct knowledge of the matter.
City Developments rose 0.3% in Singapore. The company on Wednesday said it secured a 250-million-Singapore-dollar ($180.1 million) SDG Innovation loan in the form of a three-year revolving credit facility provided by DBS Bank.
Sun Pharmaceutical Industries fell 3% in Mumbai. The Securities and Exchange Board of India has ordered a forensic audit against the company to look into allegations of financial irregularities and lapses in corporate governance standards, according to a report by Moneycontrol.
Indian drugmaker Lupin added 0.9%. The company on Wednesday announced a partnership with Germany's Boehringer Ingelheim to develop and commercialize an oncology drug to treat KRAS-driven cancers. KRAS is a gene, which when mutated is associated with several different kinds of cancer. Lupin will receive a $20 million upfront payment and milestones of more than $700 million.
-- Suzannah Benjamin