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Stocks

Nikkei Asia300 Index extends gains tracking US stocks, crude strength

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Asian stocks extended advances Wednesday, as a rise in oil prices to near 17-month highs and overnight gains on Wall Street helped lift regional indexes.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index rose 0.3% to 1,023.70 points. Heavyweight financials and technology stocks listed in Hong Kong contributed most to gains on the 324-stock gauge, with China Construction Bank (CCB) and Tencent Holdings rising over 4% and 2%, respectively.  Energy stocks CNOOC and PetroChina rose tracking crude prices, while Samsung Electronics and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing also advanced.

Brent crude prices, up almost 12% in December so far, are trading near their highest levels since mid-2015 as market participants await production cuts by major oil producers next year.

U.S. stocks rose Tuesday, as investors returned from an extended Christmas weekend. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the benchmark S&P 500 index eked out marginal gains, while the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite advanced to fresh record highs overnight. Data showing U.S. consumer confidence at an over 15-year high in December also boosted sentiment.

Still, global trading remained thin ahead of the year end, with investors firmly focused on Donald Trump's U.S. presidential inauguration on Jan. 20 and the Federal Reserve's monetary policy stance for the next year.

The Nikkei Asia300 China Index rose 1.2% to 981.25 points Wednesday, while Hong Kong's index, opening after a four-day weekend, advanced 0.2% to 958.54. Data released Tuesday showed China's industrial sector profits grew 14.5% in November.

China Construction Bank rose 4.8% to HK$5.89, while Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) rose 1.1% to HK$4.54.

South Korea's index slid 1.3% to 1,087.75 points, as investors sold stocks after they went passed their dividend payout dates. Heavyweight Samsung Electronics slipped 0.6% to 1.788 million won. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis, SK Telecom and cigarette maker KT&G led losses on the gauge.

Taiwan's gauge rose 0.7% to 1,129.81 points. Heavyweight chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing rose 1.1% to T$182. Advanced Semiconductor Engineering also rose over 1%.

The Nikkei Asia300 Malaysia Index rose 0.8% to 934.56. AirAsia led gains with a 5.4% advance, erasing Tuesday's losses. Still, the stock down over 15% for in December so far, is on track for its worst monthly performance since August 2015 as weakness in the ringgit weighs on the airline due to its foreign currency debt.

Singapore's gauge ended little changed at 975.80 points, while Thailand's index rose half a percent to 1,119.27 points. The Nikkei Asia300 Vietnam Index slipped 0.2% to 1,212.25 points.

Indexes for the Philippines and Indonesia jumped 3% and 2.2% to 934.09 and 1,178.99 points respectively.

India's index slipped 0.3% to 988.34 points.  Metal producers Hindalco Industries and Vedanta slipped over 1% each as investors took profits after Tuesday's over 2% advance. Tata Steel fell 1.1% to 388.30 rupees, giving up a chunk of yesterday's over 3% jump.

--Dhanya Ann Thoppil

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