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Japanese Market Rallies Sharply; Nikkei Hits Near 6-month High

Buoyed by a strong close on Wall Street overnight and the yen's decline against the U.S. dollar as well as the euro, the Japanese stock market is trading sharply higher on Friday.

As stock prices soared higher, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index sailed past the 9,400 mark in early trades, hitting its best level since early August 2011. The index, which rose to 9,435, is currently trading at 9,396, up 157.9 points or 1.7 percent over its previous close.

Automobile, steel, non-ferrous metals, railway and pharmaceuticals stocks are mostly up with strong gains. Several stocks from construction, retail, communications, financial and services sections are also trading firm.

Uny Co. Ltd shares are up nearly 7 percent following an announcement from the company that it would bid for all shares it does not already own in convenience store chain Circle K Sunkus at 1,780 yen per share.

Taiyo Yuden is gaining about 5.3 percent. JFE Holdings, Kobe Steel, Nikon Corp, Sumitomo Realty, Mitsubishi Estate and Komatsu are up 4 to 5 percent.

Bridgestone is trading nearly 3.5 percent thanks to an encouraging earnings forecast from the company.

Fuji Heavy Industries, Nomura Holdings, Tokyo Electronic, Nippon Steel, Fanuc, Mitsubishi Chemicals, Daikin Industries, Nippon Sheet Glass, Panasonic Corp, Mitsui Mining, Japan Tobacco and Konica Minolta are also trading higher by over 3 percent.

Among automobile stocks, Mazda Motor is up 3.7 percent and Isuzu Motors is adding 3.2 percent. Honda Motor is up nearly 3 percent. Mitsubishi Motor, Nissan Motor and Suzuki Motor are trading higher by 1.8 to 2.8 percent.

In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Mizuho Financial and Aozora Bank are up 2.3 to 2.3 percent. SMFG, Shizuoka Bank, Shinsei Bank and Bank of Yokohama are also trading notably higher, while Chiba Bank is trading in negative territory with a modest loss.

Among the few losers in the Nikkei index, Trend Micro is trading lower by over 6.5 percent on weak earnings forecast. Konami Corp, Shimzu Corp and Mitsui OSK Lines are down 1 to 1.5 percent, while Kajima Corp, Obayashi Corp and Nippon Yusen are trading lower by 0.4 to 0.8 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar moved past the 79 yen mark after trading in the upper 78 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 79.10 to the U.S. dollar. The euro is trading at 103.90 yen.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan are up with strong gains. Australia, Shanghai and Malaysia are also trading notably higher, while New Zealand is up with modest gains. Markets across the region ended lower on Thursday amid worries about the financial situation in Greece.

On Wall Street, stocks moved higher on Thursday, with upbeat U.S. economic data overshadowing lingering concerns about the financial situation in Europe.

The major averages closed firmly in positive territory, just off their highs for the session. The Dow jumped 123.1 points or 1 percent to 12,904.1, the Nasdaq surged up 44 points or 1.5 percent to 2,959.9 and the S&P 500 soared 14.8 points or 1.1 percent to 1,358.

Major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 index edged up by 0.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index and the German DAX index both slipped by about 0.1 percent.

U.S. crude oil futures closed higher for a fourth straight day Thursday, on some upbeat U.S. economic data despite lingering concerns over Greece's sovereign debt crisis. Prices were also supported by an EIA weekly report that showed an unexpected decline in U.S. crude stockpile.

Crude for March delivery gained $0.51 or 0.5 percent to settle at $102.31 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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