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Asian Markets Up Marginally Amid Cautious Trades

Asian stock markets are mostly trading higher on Wednesday. However, gains are mostly modest in the region with investors mostly treading cautiously ahead of key economic and earnings reports from across the globe.

The Japanese stock market opened on a firm note with investors picking up stocks following the lead from Wall Street, where the Dow surged higher overnight. However, with a section of investors trimming down positions amid concerns over North Korea's threat against South Korea, the market pared some early gains subsequently.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which soared to 9,582.7 in early trades, gave up some gains subsequently and was up 78.7 points or 0.8 percent at 9,546.7 when the morning session ended.

Stocks from steel, non-ferrous metals, banking and automobile sectors surged higher on some hectic buying in early trades. Precision instruments, real estate, retail and pharmaceuticals stocks are also mostly up in positive territory. Electric power and foods stocks are trading mixed.

Among the top gainers in the Nikkei index, Oki Electric Industry, Nisshin Steel, Sony Financial Holdings and Dainippon Screen Manufacturing surged 3.3 to 4 percent.

Toho Zinc, Advantest Corp, Kawasaki Kisen, T&D Holdings, Nippon Light Metal, Mitsui OSK Lines, Daiichi Sankyo, Konica Minolta, Asahi Glass and Sumitomo Realty Development also moved up sharply.

Shares of Ibiden rose sharply after Apple Inc. reported a whopping 94 percent jump in net profit in the January-March 2012 quarter.

Hitachi High-Technologies moved higher in early trades with investors picking up the stock following an announcement from the company on Tuesday that its net profit will likely jump 32 percent for the year ending March 2013.

Among bank stocks, Aozora Bank, Shinsei Bank, Chiba Bank, Bank of Yokohama, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and SMFG gained 1 to 2 percent, while Mizuho Financial moved by about 0.8 percent up.

Automobile stocks Mazda Motor, Isuzu Motors and Nissan Motor were up 1 to 2 percent. Honda Motor, Hino Motors, Suzuki Motor and Toyota Motor posted modest gains, while Mitsubishi Motors traded flat.

Yahoo Japan, Ricoh, Japan Tobacco, Showa Denko KK and Kansai Electric Power drifted lower.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 81 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 81.41 to the dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea and Taiwan are trading notably higher. Shanghai, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore are up marginally, while Indonesia and Malaysia trading slightly weak. Australian and New Zealand markets are closed for Anzac Day holiday. Markets across the region turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday.

On Wall Street, stocks turned in a lackluster performance on Tuesday, with traders reluctant to make any significant moves ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement on Wednesday. A mixed batch of economic data also contributed to the lackluster show.

The major averages closed on opposite sides of the unchanged line, with the Nasdaq posting a modest loss. While the Nasdaq ended down 8.8 points or 0.3 percent at 2,961.6, the Dow rose 74.4 points or 0.6 percent to 13,001.6 and the S&P 500 climbed 5 points or 0.4 percent to 1,372.

Major European markets moved higher on Tuesday. The French CAC 40 index jumped by 2.3 percent, while the German DAX index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index gained 1 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude oil futures settled higher on Tuesday. Crude for June delivery gained $0.44 or 0.4 percent to close at $103.55 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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