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Japanese Market Trades Firm, Nikkei Moves Past 12,000 Mark

The Japanese stock market opened on a high note Thursday and the benchmark Nikkei 225 index sailed past the 12,000 mark for the first time since 29 September 2008, as Wall Street's positive close and the yen's decline against the greenback lifted investor sentiment.

The Nikkei, which rose to 12,069.6, is currently trading at 12,026.3, up 94 points or 0.8 percent from its previous close.

GS Yuasa Corp. shares are up nearly 8 percent. Tosoh Corp., Nisshin Seifun Group, Olympus Corp., Advantest Corp. (ATE), Asahi Kasei Corp., Sapporo Holdings, Japan Tobacco, Hino Motors, Alps Electric, Yokohama Rubber and Shin-Etsu Chemical are all trading higher by 3 to 5 percent.

Dainippon Screen Manufacturing and NEC Corp. are up nearly 3 percent. Bridgestone Corp. is trading 2.8 percent up on a strong outlook for operating profit. Trend Micro, Mazda Motor, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Konica Minolta and Unitika are trading higher by 2 to 2.8 percent.

Among the losers, Sharp Corp. is down more than 5 percent on profit taking after the previous session's sharp upmove. Tokyo Tatemono is down nearly 3 percent and Yokogawa Electric is down 2.8 percent. J Front Retailing, Obayashi Corp, Komatsu, Mitsumi Electric, Tokyo Electric Power and Toho Zinc are among the other prominent losers.

On the economic front, the Bank of Japan will conclude its monetary policy meeting and then announce its decision on interest rates later in the day. The central bank is widely expected to keep rates on hold at 0 to 0.10 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 93 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen weakened further subsequently and is currently trading at 94.04 to the dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan are trading higher, while Australia, Hong Kong and South Korea are down in negative territory.

On Wall Street, stocks turned in a relatively lackluster performance on Wednesday amid uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets following recent strength.

The major averages ended the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line, although the Dow still reached a new record closing high. While the Nasdaq edged down 1.8 points or 0.1 percent to 3,222.4, the Dow rose 42.5 points or 0.3 percent to 14,296.2 and the S&P 500 inched up 1.7 points or 0.1 percent to 1,541.5.

Major European markets ended mixed on Wednesday. While the German DAX index ended the day up by 0.6 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index edged down by 0.1 percent and the French CAC 40 index closed lower by 0.4 percent.

U.S. crude oil settled lower on Wednesday after a weekly report from the Energy Information Administration showed U.S. oil stockpiles to have increased more than expected for the last week. Crude for April delivery ended down $0.39 or 0.4 percent at $90.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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