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Nikkei Markets

Nikkei Asia300 Index rises as US-China trade worries cool

WH Group rises in Hong Kong , while Tencent gives up early gains

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan rose on Monday, as worries over a potential Sino-American trade war eased after the two nations agreed not to impose import tariffs on each other for now.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index rose 0.3% to 1,407.59, after a 1.3% drop last week. On Sunday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the trade war between the nation and China was on hold, shortly after officials from both countries met in Washington to discuss bilateral trade. The comments follow weeks of back and forth between the world's largest economies as they slapped punitive trade tariffs on each other

"The joint statement from the U.S. and China over the weekend on trade is the most concrete sign we have seen on potential de-escalation since tensions began," analysts at Morgan Stanley wrote in a note. The move should "help to stabilize the forward P/E multiple on Asia and emerging market EM equities."

Pork producer WH Group, which owns U.S.-based Smithfield Foods, jumped 4.9% in Hong Kong. The stock had shed 13% since early March until Friday amid concerns that China's proposed tariffs on U.S. imports would hurt Smithfield.

China Unicom (Hong Kong) fell 1.4%. At the end of the day's trading the mobile operator said it has added a net 3.07 million mobile billing subscribers in April, bringing the aggregate number to 297.02 million.

Tencent Holdings, Asia's most valuable company, ended 0.7% lower, retreating from a 1.7% advance earlier.

Hyundai Mobis added 1.1% in Seoul. Shortly after markets closed, Reuters reported that the automobile component maker had dropped its plan to spin off a part of its business and combine it with Hyundai Glovis.

Data released on Monday showed Taiwan's export orders rose 9.8% in April from a year ago, ahead of the 8.9% advance expected by economists polled by Reuters.

Petronas Chemicals Group edged 0.1% higher after the petrochemical arm of Malaysia's national oil-and-gas company Petronas said its net profit dropped 17.8% in the first quarter following foreign exchange losses and one-off adjustment in staff cost.

In Thailand, data on Monday showed the nation's gross domestic product in the March quarter grew at an annual pace of 4.8% from the year ago. Economists polled by Reuters were expecting a 4% increase.

"Looking ahead, we think that growth may now have peaked. We anticipate some headwinds from the goods export sector, which has been a key prop to the economy," Krystal Tan, Asia economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note. "Our forecasts for global growth suggest Thailand's goods export growth is likely to soften this year."

The Nikkei Asia300 ASEAN Index for Southeast Asian companies lost 0.2%.

--Carrie Chen and Benny Kung

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