Asia Stocks Steady Amid Corporate Earnings, Trump Tax Plan

  • Markets in South Korea, Malaysia trade near multi-year highs
  • AIA Group jumps to record as new business value surges

Asian shares held near a 22-month high as investors gauged corporate results from Japan to India and the Trump administration unveiled a tax reform plan with little specific detail.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed at 149.31 as of 4:49 p.m. in Hong Kong, after rising 2.6 percent over the previous five sessions to the highest level since June 2015. The Topix dropped 0.1 percent in Tokyo as the Bank of Japan kept its stimulus policies unchanged and cut its inflation forecast.

Investors are assessing a raft of earnings data as Asian equities head for a fourth straight monthly gain amid easing concern over France’s elections. U.S. President Donald Trump’s tax plan was presented at a White House briefing Wednesday as a one-page list of bullet points amounting to fewer than 250 words. Early data suggest China’s economy may have cooled slightly in April.

“Corporate earnings are showing strong momentum while positive catalysts including the French poll have more or less been priced in,” said Hao Hong, chief strategist at Bocom International Holdings Co. in Hong Kong. “China’s weaker nominal growth in the first quarter hasn’t shown up in company results yet.”

AIA Group Ltd. jumped 6.2 percent to a record close in Hong Kong as the insurer’s value of new business surged 53 percent to an all-time high in the first quarter, led by growth in China. Yahoo Japan Corp. slumped 9.5 percent in Tokyo, its biggest drop in more than eight years, after the company forecast lower profit than analysts estimate.

China’s three biggest oil producers and the China Construction Bank Corp. are due to announce first-quarter results today.

Summary

  • South Korea’s Kospi +0.1%, after climbing Wednesday to its highest level in almost six years
  • Shanghai Composite Index +0.4%; Shenzhen Composite +0.5%
  • Hang Seng Index +0.5; Hang Seng China Enterprises Index -0.6%
  • Taiwan’s Taiex little changed; Singapore’s Straits Times Index -0.1%
  • Philippines PSEi -0.9%; Malaysia’s KLCI Index -0.1%, after rising April 26 to highest level since May 2015; Thailand’s SET Index little changed; Vietnam Stock Index +0.9%
  • India’s Sensex -0.1% after closing at record on Wednesday
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