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Asian Markets Mostly Trade In Positive Territory

Asian stock markets are mostly trading higher Monday with investors tracking cues from Wall Street where stocks posted notable gains on Friday amid a slew of encouraging earnings reports.

The Japanese stock market opened on a rousing note and the benchmark Nikkei 225 index sailed past the 11,000 mark for the first time since 30 April 2010, as strong cues from Wall Street and a weaker yen triggered some brisk buying in early trades.

However, with investors taking some profits at higher levels, the Nikkei, which spurted to 11,002.9 at the start, plunged to around 10,860. Despite regaining most of the lost ground, it was down 9.2 points at 10,917.4 when the morning session ended.

Among the losers, Fanuc Corp. was down 5.2 percent following the company cutting its operating profit forecast. Advantest Corp. (ATE) lost 4.4. Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha declined by 3.7 percent and Dainippon Screen Manufacturing was down by about 3 percent.

Mitsui OSK Lines, Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Sumco Corp. and Mitsui & Co. lost 2 to 2.8 percent. Nisshin Steel Holdings, Sharp Corp., Furukawa, Mitsubishi Materials, Chubu Electric Power, Mitsui Mining & Smelting and Komatsu also posted notable losses.

Sony Corp. (SNE) jumped more than 8 percent on reports China may lift a ban on import of game consoles.

GS Yuasa was up more than 6 percent and Tokyo Dome was trading 5.8 percent up. Daiwa Securities, Takara Holdings, Nissan Motor, Daiwa House Industry, Ricoh, Pioneer Corp., Konica Minolta Holdings, Inpex Corp., Casio Computer, Mitsubishi Estate, Fuji Heavy Industries, JFE Holdings and Nomura Holdings were up 2 to 4 percent at the break.

On the economic front, the index measuring corporate service prices in Japan was down 0.4 percent on year in December, the Bank of Japan said on Monday. That beat forecasts for a decline of 0.5 percent following the downwardly revised 0.5 percent fall in November. On month, prices were up 0.2 percent after adding 0.1 percent in the previous month.

For the fourth quarter of 2012, prices were down 0.6 percent on year and 0.1 percent on quarter. For all of 2012, prices dipped 0.3 percent on year.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government has sharply raised its forecasts for the country's economic growth in fiscal 2013 to 2.5 percent and 2.7 percent in real and normal terms, respectively, hoping the latest stimulus package will boost domestic demand.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 91 yen level in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 91.01 to the dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taiwan are trading notably higher. New Zealand and Singapore are up with modest gains, while Indonesia and South Korea are trading weak. The Australian market is closed for the Australia Day holiday.

On Wall Street, stocks moved notably higher on Friday, with investors reacting positively to the latest batch of earnings news, shrugging off a disappointing housing report.

The Dow rose 70.7 points or 0.5 percent to 13,896, the Nasdaq climbed 19.3 points or 0.6 percent to 3,149.7 and the S&P 500 moved up 8.1 points or 0.5 percent to 1,503.

Major European markets too closed on a firm note on Friday. The German DAX index jumped 1.4 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index and the French CAC 40 index gained 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude oil settled marginally lower on Friday, amid demand growth concerns following some weak new home sales data out of the U.S. Crude for March delivery shed $0.07 or 0.1 percent to close at $95.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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