Nikkei Asia300 Index builds on Fed gains, China Mobile leads
HONG KONG (NewsRise) -- Asian stocks rose Monday as sentiment remained buoyant after the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision not to alter the number of rate increases it plans to deliver this year.
The Nikkei Asia300 Index advanced 0.3% or 3.8 points to 1,717.44. The 316-gauge added more than 4% last week despite the Fed's 25 basis-point rate increase, as investors focused more on the central bank's indication that it will raise rates only twice more this year. Markets now await France's presidential elections next month for further cues.
The Nikkei country indexes for China and Hong Kong rose 1.3% and 0.7% Monday. Tech giant Tencent added 2.8% before its annual results on Wednesday, while China Mobile, also due to announce annual earnings this week, jumped 3.7% after reporting it added 6.4 million new 4G subscribers last month. China Shenhua Energy surged 16% as the nation's largest coal producer announced a special dividend of 2.51 yuan ($0.36) a share after reporting a 41% increase in its 2016 net income.
Singapore's gauge fell 0.4% to 1,097.33, weighed down by weakness in lenders DBS Group Holdings, United Overseas Bank and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. The lenders, with exposures to the oil and gas services sector, came under renewed pressure after offshore oilfield services group Ezra Holdings' filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S.
The Nikkei Asia300 Malaysia Index eked out a 0.2% advance to 1,028.39. Axiata Group rose 2.2% following a media report suggesting the mobile operator is considering a merger with Telekom Malaysia. Late Friday, Axiata said it was undertaking a strategic review of its majority stake in Singaporean telecom player M1.
In the rest of Southeast Asia, gauges in Thailand and Indonesia added 0.8% and 0.2%, while that of Philippines shed 0.6%.
The country index for South Korea slipped 0.3% to 1,279.14 after rising 1.5% Friday.
Taiwan's gauge added 0.2%. Data released Monday showed the nation's export orders surged 22% in February. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing rose 1%, while Hon Hai Precision Industry, or Foxconn, added 0.6%.
Shares of Idea Cellular plunged 9.6% after the company and British mobile phone carrier Vodafone agreed to merge India operations to create the nation's largest cell phone company. Reliance Industries, which launched its telecom venture Reliance Jio last year, slipped 1.6%.
--V. Phani Kumar