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Japanese Market Rallies On Monetary Easing Hopes

The Japanese market opened on a firm note on Friday with investors picking up stocks amid rising expectations that the central bank will announce further monetary easing post next month's general election.

Financial, electric power, insurance, mining, chemicals and non-ferrous metals stocks are mostly trading notably higher.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which opened above 8,900, is currently up 124 points or 1.4 percent at 8,953.7.

Mitsui Chemicals Inc. is trading stronger by 7.3 percent, and Daikin Industries is up 7 percent. Aozora Bank is gaining 5.6 percent following the bank beating its earnings forecast.

Nisshin Steel Holdings, Sumco Corp., Japan Steel Works, Advantest Corp. (ATE), Canon Inc., JFE Holdings, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Pioneer Corp. and Sumitomo Heavy Industries are all trading higher by 4 to 5.5 percent.

Nippon Electric Glass, Sumitomo Chemical, Daiwa Securities, Mitsubishi Electric Corp., GS Yuasa and Fujifilm Holdings are advancing more than 3 percent.

Dainippon Screen Manufacturing, Matsui Securities, Casio Computer, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Sony Corp. (SNE), Pacific Metals, Nippon Soda and Fast Retailing are also trading sharply higher.

Among automobile stocks, Mazda Motor is gaining more than 7 percent, Nissan Motor is up 4.2 percent, Honda Motor is adding 3.5 percent and Toyota Motor is trading higher by 3 percent.

Meanwhile, UBE Industries, Nippon Light Metal Holdings, Ajinomoto Co Inc., Konami Corp., Konica Minolta Holdings, Ashai Group Holdings and JX Holdings are all trading notably lower.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 81 yen level in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 81.14 to the dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, Shanghai, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore are trading weak, while Hong Kong is trading higher. The Indonesian market is closed for Muslim New Year Day holiday.

On Wall Street, stocks turned in a relatively lackluster performance on Thursday and ended modestly lower, with traders reacting to a batch of disappointing U.S. economic data.

The major averages ended the day in negative territory but well off their lows for the session. The Dow dipped 28.6 points or 0.2 percent to 12,542.4, the Nasdaq drifted down 9.9 points or 0.4 percent to 2,836.9 and the S&P 500 edged down 2.2 points or 0.2 percent to 1,353.3.

Major European markets too ended lower on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 index declined by 0.5 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index and the German DAX index both lost 0.8 percent.

U.S. crude oil settled sharply lower on Thursday on demand growth concerns after an Energy Information Administration weekly oil report showed an increase in U.S. crude stockpiles for the last week. Weak economic data out of the U.S. and Europe too weighed to an extent.

Crude for December delivery dropped $0.87 or 1 percent to close at $85.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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