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Asian Markets Trade Higher

Asian markets are mostly trading higher on Thursday with investors tracking a positive lead from Wall Street. However, gains are just modest in most of the markets in the region with investors treading a bit cautiously at higher levels, choosing to wait for more clear signals for the near term.

The Australian stock market is trading firm, with investors tracking a positive lead from Wall Street and indulging in some brisk buying in several front line stocks from across various sectors.

Financial, energy, mining and industrial stocks are trading firm. Several stocks from healthcare and information technology sectors are also up in positive territory, while consumer discretionary stocks are trading weak.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which rose to 4,393.8, is currently trading at 4,381, up 20.6 points or 0.5 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 18.1 points or 0.4 percent at 4,452, off the day's high of 4,466.2.

Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac are up 0.4 to 1 percent.

Among miners, BHP Billiton is up 0.6 percent, Rio Tinto is gaining about 1.2 percent and Fortescue Metals is up marginally. Newcrest Mining is down in negative territory, losing more than 2 percent.

In the energy sector, Santos is up 1.7 percent and Oil Search is adding 1.2 percent, while Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy and Caltex Australia are up with modest gains.

Onesteel is trading stronger by over 5 percent. Boart Longyear, Paladin Energy, Iluka Resources, QBE Insurance Group and Perseus Mining are up 2.5 to 3 percent.

Leighton Holdings is up 2.3 percent. The company said its subsidiary Habtoor Leighton Group has been awarded a contract worth $169 million for a mine-related infrastructure project in Saudi Arabia.

Lynas Corporation, Toll Holdings, Incitec Pivot, BeachEnergy and Atlas Iron are trading higher by 2 to 2.4 percent.

According to reports, Atlas Iron and QR National are looking at building a new railway that will link mines in Western Australia's Pilbara regioin to Port Hedland. QR National shares are up 1.7 percent.

Graincorp, Resmed Inc, Spark Infrastructure and Computershare are also up with strong gains.

Seven West Media Limited shares are down nearly 15 percent following the company cutting its earnings forecast due to ongoing weakness in advertising markets.

After a bright start on the back of a positive lead from Wall Street, the Japanese stock market pared most of its early gains with a section of investors choosing to take profits at higher levels.

Automobile, retail, precision instruments, rubber and financial stocks opened on a firm note but came off their highs subsequently. Electric power, shipbuilding and transport stocks traded mixed.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which rose to 9,631, was up 10.6 points or 0.1 percent at 9,571.6 at the end of the morning session.

Trend Micro, Advantest Corp, Fuji Electric, Nippon Yusen KK, Konami Corp, Ricoh, Kawasaki Kisen, Nippon Electric Glass, Yokogawa Electric, J Front Retailing and Nippon Soda gained 2 to 3 percent before retreating a bit from their high levels.

Among bank stocks, Shizuoka Bank, Chiba Bank, Bank of Yokohama, Shinsei Bank and Aozora Bank moved up by 1.5 to 2.5 percent. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Mizuho Financial and SMFG also edged higher in morning trades.

In the automobile space, Mazda Motor gained 2.5 percent. Hino Motors and Mitsubishi Motors too posted strong gains, while Nissan Motor, Isuzu Motors, Suzuki Motor and Toyota Motor edged up marginally.

Fanuc Corp. shares lost nearly 6 percent after the company forecast lower operating profit.

Hitachi Construction Machinery drifted down by about 3 percent and Nomura Holdings lost over 2 percent. Chubu Electric Power, Fast Retailing and JFE Holdings were also trading notably lower at the break.

According to data released by the Finance Ministry, foreigners were net sellers of Japan bonds and stocks last week. Foreign residents sold 63.1 billion yen more in Japan stocks than they bought for the week ending April 21, the data showed. Foreigners sold a net 6.7 billion yen worth of Japan based bonds and notes for the week.

Japan residents, meanwhile, were net purchasers of 43.2 billion yen worth of foreign stocks for the week. They were net sellers of 1.17 trillion yen in foreign bonds for the week.

According to another report from the finance ministry, Japan's trade deficit in early April came at 455.1 billion yen, up from a deficit of 172.9 billion yen a year earlier.

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 81.29 to the U.S. dollar.

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

On Wall Street, stocks ended with notable gains on Wednesday with traders reacting positively to better than expected quarterly results from tech giant Apple Inc.

The Dow rose 89.2 points or 0.7 percent to 13,090.7, the Nasdaq surged up 68 points or 2.3 percent to 3,029.6 and the S&P 500 climbed 18.7 points or 1.4 percent to 1,390.7.

Major European markets too ended on a firm note on Wednesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index edged up by 0.2 percent, the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index gained 1.7 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude oil futures settled higher on Wednesday, notwithstanding the jump in U.S. crude stockpiles for the week ended April 20 and the Federal Reserve indicating no major shift in its accommodative monetary policy.

Crude for June delivery gained $0.55 or 0.5 percent to close at $104.12 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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