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Nikkei Markets

Nikkei Asia300 edges up even as US-China trade tensions loom

Chinese energy producers rebound after recent losses

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks squeezed out marginal gains on Thursday, as investors remained on the sidelines amid lingering concern over trade relations between the U.S. and China.

The Nikkei Asia300 edged 0.1% higher to 1,395.63. Risk sentiment was jittery for a second day after U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter said that while the nation's trade deal with China was "moving along nicely," the U.S. will "probably have to use a different structure in that this will be too hard to get done." The post came a day after Trump said he was not too pleased with the trade agreement so far. The latest remarks eroded upbeat sentiment triggered by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's comments on Sunday that the "trade war" between the two countries was on hold.

Markets also digested the Federal Reserve's latest meeting that signaled a likely rate increase in June, but did not indicate a quicker pace of rate increases going forward.

Pork producer WH Group, which had rallied 4.9% on Monday amid signs of a thaw for Sino-U.S. trade tensions, fell 3.2%, extending Wednesday's 1.5% decline.

Lenovo Group, among the world's largest personal-computer makers, climbed 2.1% even as it reported a 69% drop in net profit for the fiscal fourth quarter amid higher operating costs. Revenue grew 11% year-on-year to $10.64 billion.

China Petroleum & Chemical (Sinopec) and PetroChina added 2.5% and 1.5%, respectively, after Brent crude futures erased early losses on Wednesday.

Oil & Natural Gas Corp and Oil India tumbled 4.5%. India is mulling levying a tax on oil producers like ONGC to cushion the blow to consumers as retail prices of petrol and diesel surge, the Press Trust of India reported, citing sources privy to the development.

Tata Motors declined 6.6% after reporting a wider-than-expected 51% drop in net profit for the March quarter.

Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry revised up the lower end of its growth forecast range for the year, saying it expects gross domestic product to grow between 2.5% and 3.5% this year, as compared to the 1.5%-3.5% range announced previously.

The latest growth forecast for Singapore suggests increasing confidence in the domestic economy despite global risks that have gathered pace in recent weeks.

The Nikkei Asia300 ASEAN Index for Southeast Asian companies slipped 0.1%.

--V. Phani Kumar

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