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Nikkei Markets

Easing US-China worries lift Nikkei Asia300 Index

Malaysia's country gauge ekes out small gains as markets reopen post-election

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan rose on Monday, as investors bet tensions between China and the U.S. were set to ease after President Donald Trump said trade talks between the nations were going well.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index added 0.7% to 1,433.01 on Monday after rising 2.1% last week. Regional sentiment improved after Trump on Twitter said the world's largest economies were working well together on trade relations. Asian markets also tracked Wall Street's gains on Friday amid robust U.S. corporate earnings.

Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn Technology Group, rose 4.7% in Taipei as smartphone suppliers in the region received a boost after the U.S. president said he was working with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to help telecommunication-equipment maker ZTE find "a way to get back into business." The comment came a month after the U.S. Department of Commerce banned American companies from making sales to China's ZTE.

Trading in ZTE remains halted in Hong Kong.

"Now that ZTE's U.S. export ban is officially part of the U.S.-China trade talks, we believe concrete negotiations on how China could achieve a more level-playing field in tech have started," analysts at Jefferies wrote in a note. "We continue to believe the U.S. will make only highly calculated moves, by factoring in the commercial interest of U.S. tech firms."

Social-media giant Tencent Holdings rose 0.7%, posting its fifth straight daily gain. The company is due to report first-quarter earnings on Wednesday.

Ping An Insurance Group added 1.7%. At the end of the day's trading, the insurer said accumulated gross premium income of its life insurance business for January to April was up 21.3%.

Nikkei's country gauge for Malaysia rose 0.1% as the nation's financial markets re-opened following a shock election outcome that saw the opposition coalition sweeping to power to end a 61-year rule of Nasional Front.

Consumer-related stocks in Malaysia rose on expectations of higher retail spending as investors brace for the new government to scrap the unpopular goods and services tax as part of its election campaign pledge. Genting, which operates the popular Highlands resort casino, rose 4.2%.

However, construction-to-technology conglomerate YTL plunged 12.8%. Malaysia's new government has pledged to re-evaluate major infrastructure projects in a move that analysts warned could jeopardize YTL's contracts.

--V. Phani Kumar

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