Asian stock markets are mostly trading in positive territory on Friday with investors indulging in some buying, tracking cues from Wall Street where stocks posted solid gains overnight on the back of some encouraging earnings reports.
However, gains in most of the markets in the region are just modest with a section of investors treading cautiously at higher levels.
The Australian stock market is trading marginally higher amid selective buying on Friday. Despite a fairly strong lead from Wall Street, the mood is somewhat cautious in the market and investors are mostly seen tracking quarterly earnings reports for direction.
Energy, consumer staples and information technology stocks are among the top gainers in the Australian market. Financial, mining and industrial stocks are edging higher after a somewhat subdued spell, while healthcare and telecommunications are trading slightly weak.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is currently up 29.8 points or 0.7 percent at 4,160. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 4,381, up 27.5 points or 0.6 percent from its previous close.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank (ANZ: Quote) is up nearly 2.5 percent. Westpac (WBK: Quote) is adding nearly 1.5 percent, while National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are trading higher by 1 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are down marginally.
Among top miners BHP Billiton (BHP: Quote,BBL: Quote) is down marginally, while Rio Tinto (RIO: Quote,RIO.L) is up in positive territory with a gain of about 0.5 percent.
Treasury Wine Estates is trading nearly 4 percent up. Challenger and Santos are up 3.5 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.
Fairfax Media is gaining around 2.7 percent and Wesfarmers is up with a gain of 2.3 percent, while Regis Resources and Perseus Mining are both trading higher by about 2 percent.
Newcrest Mining, GPT Group, Monadelphous Group, Beach Energy and Downer EDI are also trading notably higher.
Shares of energy infrastructure investor Duet Group are down 2 percent following the company reporting a 62 percent plunge in full year profit. The group's net profit fell to A$47.5 million in the year to June 30, from A$124.9 million the previous year, the company said. It said tax losses to the tune of A$112 million contributed to the drop in earnings.
Alumina (AWC: Quote) is down nearly 2 percent following the company reporting a net loss of A$13.95 million for the first half of year 2012. In the corresponding period last fiscal, the company had posted a net profit of A$67.7 million.
QBE Insurance Group is trading more than 5.5 percent down. Whitehaven Coal, Bluescope Steel, Arrium and ASX are down 1.6 to 2.6 percent.
Meanwhile, APA Group has again lifted its takeover offer for Hastings Diversified Utilities Fund following the bidding war over the company heating up. The move comes just days after rival Pipeline Partners Australia increased its cash offer for the fund by 10 cents to A$2.43 per security.
APA announced that it would increase its bid by 18 cents in cash and 0.39 APA securities for each HDF security if it becomes entitled to proceed to compulsory acquisition.
After a fairly strong start and a subsequent mild retreat, the Japanese stock market rallied smartly on Friday with investors indulging in some hectic buying at several counters, buoyed by a firm close on Wall Street overnight.
The yen's weakness against the U.S. dollar and some encouraging earnings reports are also contributing to the market's rise.
Precision instruments, automobile, financial, glass & ceramics and non-ferrous metals stocks were mostly up in positive territory when the morning session ended. Pharmaceuticals, railway, oil and communications stocks traded mixed.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which eased to 9,097 after opening around 9,120, was up 57.2 points or 0.6 percent at 9,149.9 at the end of the morning session.
Okuma Corp, the top gainer in the Nikkei index, was up more than 4 percent. Nippon Sheet Glass, Dainippon Screen Manufacturing, Hitachi Zosen Group, Casio Computer, Sumitomo Metal Industries, JFE Holdings, Alps Electric and Mitsui Mining & Smelting moved up by over 3 percent.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Nippon Yusen KK, Dowa Holdings, Pacific Metals, Nomura Holdings, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Hino Motors, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial (MTU: Quote), Sumitomo Chemicals, Nippon Soda and Toshiba also posted sharp gains.
Meanwhile, Japan Tobacco, Tokyo Electric Power, Furukawa, Yahoo Japan, Toho Co, Shinsei Bank and Tokyo Dome drifted lower, losing between 1 and 2.2 percent from their last closing levels.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 79 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 79.36 to the dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong and New Zealand are trading notably higher. Shanghai, Malaysia and Singapore are up marginally and Taiwan is trading flat, while South Korea is trading weak. Markets across the region had turned in a mixed performance on Thursday.
On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly higher on Thursday after showing a lack of direction early on in the session. The markets benefited from a positive reaction to quarterly results from Cisco as well as remarks by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Despite paring some gains towards the end of the session, the major averages posted solid gains. The Dow rose 85.3 points or 0.7 percent to 13,250.1, the Nasdaq jumped 31.5 points or 1 percent to 3,062.4 and the S&P 500 advanced by about 10 points or 0.7 percent to 1,415.5.
Major European markets too closed higher on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index closed just above the unchanged line, the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index advanced by 0.7 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil ended higher on Thursday, extending gains to a third consecutive day. Supply concerns due to tension in the Middle Ease and a weak dollar contributed to oil's rise.
Crude for September delivery gained $1.27 or 1.4 percent to close at $95.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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