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Asian Markets Mostly Trade Higher

Asian markets are mostly trading notably higher on Friday with investors indulging in some hectic buying, tracking a positive lead from Wall Street, where stocks posted strong gains overnight on encouraging trade data. Hopes of continuation of U.S. earnings momentum too contributed to the positive start. Some of the markets in the region are trading off their highs following a slower than expected GDP growth in China.

The data released by the Chinese government reveals a slower than expected economic growth in that country. According to the report, China's Gross Domestic Product expanded 8.1 percent in the first quarter, lower than the expected growth of 8.4 percent.

In the Australian market, mining, energy and industrial stocks are mostly up with impressive gains. Financial and healthcare stocks are also moving higher.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which rose to 4,330.5, is up 32.4 points or 0.8 percent at 4,313. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 31.7 points or 0.7 percent at 4,384.3, off the day's high of 4,410.7.

Among top miners, Rio Tinto is up nearly 3 percent, BHP Billiton is gaining 2 percent, Fortescue Metals is up with a gain of 2.3 percent and Newcrest Mining is adding 1.2 percent.

In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Oil Search and Origin Energy are up 1 to 1.3 percent, while Caltex Australia is trading up 0.8 percent.

Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Wespac are up 0.5 to 1 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is gaining 0.7 percent and Bank of Queensland is trading higher by 1.3 percent.

PanAust, extending recent gains, is trading stronger by nearly 5.5%. Challenger, Boart Longyear, Monadelphous Group, James Hardie Industries and Paladin Energy are up 3 to 4 percent.

Fairfax Media, Beach Energy, Bluescope Steel, Primary Healthcare, Toll Holdings, Qantas Airways, Lynas Corporation, Downer EDI and Harvey Norman Holdings are all trading higher by over 2.5 percent.

Investa Office Fund, Dexus Property Group, Myer Holdings and Sonic Healthcare are also up sharply.

Buoyed by a strong close on Wall Street overnight and on reports about the failure of North Korea's rocket launch, the Japanese market opened on a rousing note on Friday.

After rising to With stocks moving higher on sustained buying interest, the market is gaining in strength, resulting in the benchmark Nikkei 225 index surging past the 9,650 mark. However, with stocks retreating a bit following a weak GDP data from China, the index pared some gains towards the end of the morning session.

The index was up 119.4 points or 1.2 percent at 9,644.2 at the break.

Steel, non-ferrous metals, textiles, oil and financial stocks were mostly up with strong gains. Electric power, gas and retail stocks traded mixed.

Shares of Fast Retailing Co. rose nearly 8 percent following the company forecasting a record profit.

Amada Co. shares gained 6.5 percent. Fanuc Corp, Dai-ichi Life Insurance, Nomura Holdings, Unitika, Fuji Electric, Taiyo Yuden, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Furukawa Electric and Credit Saison moved up by 3 to 4 percent.

Japan Tobacco, Konica Minolta, Yokogawa Electric, Dainippon Screen, TDK Corp, Aozora Bank, Advantest, Mitsubishi Materials and Mizuho Financial were all trading higher by 2 to 3 percent.

Among automobile stocks, Honda Motor, Nissan Motor and Toyota Motor posted strong gains, while Mitsubishi Motor, Suzuki Motor, Hino Motors and Isuzu Motors edged up marginally.

Meanwhile, Sony Corp, Dai Nippon Printing, Sapporo Holdings, Panasonic Corp, Yamaha Corp, Nippon Kayaku, Chugai Pharmaceuticals, Nippon Soda and Aeon drifted lower.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded slightly below 81 yen in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is still hovering around that level, quoting at 81.02 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are trading notably higher. Malaysia is up marginally, while Shanghai and New Zealand are trading slightly weak. Markets across the region ended mostly higher on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks moved higher on Thursday with traders reacting positively to a report from the Commmerce Department that showed a narrower than expected U.S. trade deficit.

The major averages ended near their best levels of the day. The Dow jumped 181.2 points or 1.4 percent to 12,986.6, the Nasdaq moved up 39.1 points or 1.3 percent to 3,055.1 and the S&P 500 soared 18.9 points or 1.4 percent to 1,387.6.

Major European markets also ended on a firm note on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index advanced by 1.3 percent, the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index both moved up by 1 percent.

U.S. crude oil futures surged higher on Thursday amid hopes of further monetary stimulus for the economy and on strong equity markets. Light, sweet crude oil futures for May delivery gained $0.94 or 0.9 percent to close at $103.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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