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Stocks

Nikkei Asia300 Index gains as Singapore stocks rally on economic growth

Indian mobile phone operators jump on mergers, Samsung falls after CEO quits

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan rose Friday, helped by a rally in Singapore shares after better-than-expected third-quarter economic growth in the city-state.

Samsung Electronics declined as record earnings were overshadowed by the resignation of its Chief Executive Officer. Indian mobile phone operators jumped as consolidation gathers pace in the nation's competitive telecom market.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index advanced 0.2% to 1,348.64 on Friday, taking its weekly gains to more than 2%.

Advance estimates showed that Singapore's economy expanded 4.6% in the third quarter from a year earlier, faster than the 3.8% forecast by economists in a Reuters poll. The growth was also quicker than the 2.9% in the prior quarter.

Also on Friday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore maintained its neutral stance in the half-yearly policy review, as expected. The slope, center point, and width of the MAS's policy band were all kept unchanged. Singapore manages its monetary policy by letting its currency rise or fall against the currencies of its main trading partners within an undisclosed trading band.

Property developers led the rally in Singapore stocks. City Developments climbed 3.7%, UOL Group advanced 2.2%, and CapitaLand rose 1.4%. On Friday, Macquarie raised its estimates for residential prices and sales.

Keppel Corp., with business interest ranging from property to rig building, jumped 4.1% after CIMB Investment Bank upgraded the stock to "add," saying Keppel is a safe stock to own to benefit from gains in Singapore's residential market and as offshore and marine business bottoms out.

India's Bharti Airtel surged 7.9% after saying that it will acquire, subject to regulatory approvals, the consumer mobile phone businesses of Tata Teleservices in a cash free, debt free deal. Shares of Idea Cellular, India's fourth-largest mobile operator, climbed 5.9%.

Samsung Electronics dropped 1.5% after Chief Executive Kwon Oh-hyun offered to step down from all his posts in March. The resignation eclipsed a record September quarter for the company, which Friday said it expects operating profits of about 14.5 trillion Korean won ($12.8 billion) for the quarter, a 179% jump from a year earlier.

Asian stocks also got a boost from China's strong September trade data. The nation's September imports in dollar terms increased by a higher-than-expected 18.7% on-year, while exports rose 8.1%.

In country indexes compiled by Nikkei, India advanced 0.6%, Hong Kong added 0.4%, and Taiwan rose 0.2%. China was little changed while South Korea edged 0.1% lower.

The Nikkei Asia300 ASEAN Index of Southeast Asian companies advanced 0.4%.

--Nimesh Vora

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