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Stocks

Nikkei Asia300 Index gains as energy stocks rally

CNOOC, PetroChina, Sapura among shares that advanced

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan advanced Wednesday, led by energy companies as U.S. crude oil prices rallied to their highest level since June 2015.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index rose 0.2% to 1,396.72. H-shares of CNOOC added 1.8%, PetroChina climbed 0.6%, and China Petroleum & Chemical (Sinopec) rose 0.2%. Malaysia's Sapura Energy advanced 2.1% and Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production gained 1.5%. Hyundai Heavy Industries slumped 29% after the company said it plans to raise about 1.3 trillion won ($1.2 billion) through a rights issue. The shipbuilder also said it planned to list its refining subsidiary Hyundai Oilbank in the second half of next year to bolster its finances.

The gains in energy stocks followed a 2.5% rally in U.S. benchmark crude overnight, with prices closing just a tad below the psychologically important $60 a barrel. Crude prices rose amid reports of a pipeline explosion in Libya, raising fears of a disruption in supply.

All the three major U.S. indexes edged lower overnight as investors returned from the Christmas break. In Asia, data released showed that industrial profits in China grew at their slowest pace since April.

"With limited economic data to push markets around, today really is about position squaring ahead of the new calendar year," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at Melbourne-based broker IG.

H-shares of Chinese electric carmaker BYD jumped 5.8% after Beijing extended the 10% purchase tax rebate on new energy vehicles. New energy cars will be exempted from the tax between Jan. 1, 2018 and Dec. 31, 2020, China's Ministry of Finance and the ministry of industry announced in a statement Tuesday.

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, India's largest drug maker by market value, rose 6.5% after the U.S. health regulator approved its new drug application for a solution to treat dry eye disease.

In country indexes compiled by Nikkei, South Korea advanced 1.4%, Taiwan added 0.2%, and Hong Kong rose 0.5%. China slipped 0.5% and India lost 0.4%.

The Nikkei Asia300 ASEAN Index of Southeast Asian companies climbed 0.5%.

--Nimesh Vora

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