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    Nikkei Markets

    Nikkei Asia300 Index falls, dragged down by South Korean, Chinese stocks

    LG Display slumps 6.4% after weak earnings

    HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside of Japan fell Wednesday, dragged down by South Korean companies and Chinese financial firms.

    The Nikkei Asia300 Index of companies outside Japan slipped 0.3% to 1,364.10. LG Display tumbled 6.4% after posting a wider-than-expected operating loss for the March quarter. The manufacturer's research investment in organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels at a time of slowing demand will likely translate to a weak year, the company's chief financial officer said, according to a Reuters report.

    POSCO declined 1% after the South Korean steelmaker's first-quarter operating profit declined 19% amid a drop in steel prices. Index heavyweight Samsung Electronics and its peer SK Hynix were the other major losers on the A300 Index, falling 1% and 3.1%, respectively. Samsung earlier this month said that it expects a 60% drop in first-quarter operating profit amid a decline in prices of memory chips.

    In the wake of the losses in South Korean stocks, the A300 was unable to build on the positive cues out of Wall Street. The S&P 500 Index climbed almost one per cent on Tuesday on the back of upbeat earnings to a record. Expectations of a U.S.-China trade deal, an accommodative Federal Reserve, and economic data that has allayed worries of an economic slowdown have lifted the S&P 500 Index by 17% this year. There was more positive news on Tuesday with sales of new U.S. single-family homes jumped to the highest in one-and-a-half years.

    Meanwhile, Asian currencies slipped Wednesday as the dollar's index climbed to near two-year highs following the upbeat U.S. housing data. The losses in regional currencies, paced by the South Korean won, hurt the appetite for Asian equities.

    In other major losers on the A300 Index, Hong Kong-shares of China Life Insurance and Ping An Insurance Group declined at least 0.9% each. China Construction Bank led mainland lenders lower, falling 0.7%.

    China Mobile declined 1.1% following an 8.3% decrease in March quarter net profit and a 0.3% slippage in revenue. Smaller rival China Unicom (Hong Kong) reversed direction to close 0.8% lower after rising as much as 2.3% earlier. The company had reported a 22% increase in first-quarter net profit late Tuesday.

    Singapore Technologies Engineering advanced 3.4% after its U.S based shipbuilding unit received a polar security cutter (PSC) contract worth up to S$2.6 billion ($1.9 billion) from the U.S. Department of Navy. Olam International rose 2.6% after the Singapore-listed food and agri-business company submitted a binding offer to acquire Dangote Flour Mills in Nigeria for an enterprise value of about $361 million.

    Hyundai Motor rose 1.8% after the carmaker reported a better-than-expected increase in net profit for the March quarter amid improving sales in the U.S. and South Korea.

    --Nimesh Vora

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