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Asian Markets Up Marginally Amid Cautious Trades

Asian stock markets are trading marginally higher on Wednesday with investors mostly treading cautiously amid a lack of fresh triggers. Though most of the markets saw some early gains, stocks retreated later with some traders choosing to take profits.

The Japanese stock market traded firm with investors picking up stocks, buoyed by the yen's decline against the dollar and on expectations the new government that will assume office later in the day will strive to put the economy back on track.

Banking, railway, real estate, construction and precision instruments moved higher. Mining, oil, steel and non-ferrous metals stocks traded mixed.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which rose to 10,152.5, was up 42.7 points or 0.4 percent at 10,122.8 at the end of the morning session.

Among the top gainers in the Nikkei index, Mitsui OSK Lines, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Nippon Yusen KK, Sumco Corp. and Credit Saison moved up by 5 to 6 percent.

Sharp Corp., Taiyo Yuden, Mitsumi Electric, Fujitsu, IHI Corp., Showa Denko KK, Shinsei Bank, Tosoh and Panasonic Corp. (PC) gained 3 to 3.6 percent.

Nippon Paper Group, Sony Corp. (SNE), Matsui Securities, JFE Holdings, Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Taiheiyo Cement, Fuji Electric, Kobe Steel, Advantest Corp. (ATE), Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., Mazda Motor and Hitachi Construction Mahinery also posted strong gains.

Hitachi Ltd shares moved up sharply following an announcement from the company that it will consider revamping the medical businesses among its group companies. The company is also planning to double its operating margin.

Meanwhile, Ajinomoto, Konami Corp., Trend Micro, Unitika, Sapporo Holdings, Mitsubishi Motors, Kansai Electric Power, Tokyo Electric Power and Softbank Corp. traded weak, losing 1 to 2.6 percent.

According to the minutes of Bank of Japan's monetary policy meeting in November, some members of the policy board wanted the central bank to take appropriate and decisive actions, if risks regarding the outlook increased substantially.

A number of policymakers also raised the point that it might be necessary for the BoJ to improve its policy measures further to enhance the influence of monetary policy on foreign exchange rates.

In the December meeting, the central bank enhanced its monetary easing by expanding the asset purchase program by about JPY 10 trillion amid intense pressure from the country's new leadership to do more to stabilize the economy and tackle deflation.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading at 85.20 to the yen.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan are up marginally, while South Korea is trading notably higher. The Australian, New Zealand and Hong Kong markets are closed for holidays.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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