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Nikkei Markets

Nikkei Asia300 little changed as traders eye US-China trade talks

Cathay Pacific slips after April data, while SingAir jumps on SilkAir deal

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan were little changed on Friday, as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of the outcome of a meeting on trade between the U.S. and China.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index edged 0.1% lower to 1,403.80 on Friday. For the week, the gauge declined 1.3%. Investors are watching updates from an ongoing meeting between China-U.S. officials in Washington this week as the two sides seek an agreement on bilateral trade. China on Friday denied that it had offered to reduce U.S. trade deficit with the country by up to $200 billion, according to media reports. Earlier, Reuters and other media reported that U.S. officials said China was proposing trade concessions and promises of increased purchases aimed at cutting the U.S. trade deficit by up to $200 billion a year.

PetroChina jumped 6.4%, while CNOOC and China Petroleum & Chemical (Sinopec) rose 3.4% and 2.4%, respectively, after the benchmark Brent crude oil contract climbed above $80 a barrel on Thursday.

Cathay Pacific Airways slid 1.2% on Friday after the airline reported combined Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon traffic figures for April that showed a 0.8% fall in passenger carried. Passenger load factor, a measure of how full planes are with paying passengers, fell 1.9 percentage points to 84.5%.

Singapore Airlines jumped 3.8%, its best single-day advance since February, after saying its wholly-owned regional carrier SilkAir will be merged into the main company after a some of its aircraft are fitted with new cabin products in a S$100 million ($74.49 million) upgrade.

AIA Group rose 0.4% in Hong Kong. The insurer will be targeting middle-income groups in large cities when new rules that ease foreign ownership restrictions take effect, Group Chief Executive Ng Keng Hooi said after the company's annual shareholders meeting in Hong Kong Friday.

Social-media-and-gaming company Tencent Holdings added 0.2%, extending its 3.7% jump on Thursday after it reported March quarter results ahead of market expectations.

The U.S. is taking a second look at penalties imposed on ZTE, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox Business Network on Thursday. The comments come days after U.S. President Donald Trump said he was working with Chinese President Xi Jinping to give the company a "way to get back into business, fast."

Trading in the Chinese telecommunication-equipment maker's shares remains halted in Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

In India, two-and-three-wheeler maker Bajaj Auto fell 1.5% despite reporting a 35% jump in March quarter profit that beat market expectations.

--V. Phani Kumar

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