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Asian Markets Trade Firm

Asian stock markets are mostly trading notably higher on Friday with investors indulging in some hectic buying, tracking a positive lead from the U.S. and European markets where the mood was fairly upbeat overnight on the back of some impressive economic data.

In the Australian market, energy, mining, consumer discretionary, financial, industrial and healthcare stocks are mostly up with strong gains.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is up 60.3 points or 1.2 percent at 5,136. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 5,127, up 60.3 points or 1.2 percent from its previous close.

Crown Limited shares are up 6.8 percent despite the company's profit declining more than 20 percent. Sims Metal Management is trading almost 7 percent up. Regis Resources and Seek are up nearly 6 percent.

Newcrest Mining, Iluka Resources, Sonic Healthcare, Fortescue Metals, Beach Energy, Downer EDI, Myer Holdings, WorleyParsons and Suncorp Group are up 3 to 5 percent. Aristocrat Leisure, Origin Energy, Challenger, Harvey Norman Holdings and Asciano are also up sharply.

Lend Lease is trading 2.3 percent up following a 10 percent surge in earnings. Mirvac Group shares are up nearly 3.5 percent despite the company reporting a 66 percent decline in net profit, due to writedowns worth A$273.2 million.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened higher against the U.S. dollar, boosted by stronger-than-expected Chinese manufacturing data. Around noon, the local unit was quoting at US$0.9015, up 0.2 percent from Thursday's close of US$0.8998.

The Japanese stock market rallied sharply with the yen's decline against the U.S. dollar and the overnight positive close on Wall Street lifting sentiment to a significant extent and triggering heavy buying almost across the board.

Machinery, steel, non-ferrous metals, banking, automobile, real estate and retail stocks opened notably higher and were trading with strong gains when the morning session ended.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which opened with a positive gap of nearly 220 points at 13,583.8 and advanced to around 13,728 subsequently, was up 316.2 points or 2.4 percent at 13,681.4 at the end of the morning session.

JTEKT Corp., J Front Retailing, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Citizen Holdings, Toshiba Corp., Mitsumi Electric, Hitachi Construction Machinery, Tokyo Tatemono, Credit Saison, Sumitomo Realty & Developoment and Sumitomo Metal Mining gained 3 to 5 percent.

Panasonic Corp. (PC), JFE Holdings, Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Casio Computer, Oki Electric Industry, Fujifilm Holdings, Sony Corp. (SNE), Konica Minolta and Dai-ichi Life Insurance also rose sharply.

In the automobile sector, Mazda Motor, Hino Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, Isuzu Motors, Nissan Motor, Honda Motor (HMC), Toyota Motor (TM) and Suzuki Motor gained 2 to 6 percent.

In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial (MTU), Shizuoka Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group moved up 2.3 to 3 percent, while Aozora Bank, Bank of Yokohama, Chiba Bank and Mizuho Financial Group (MFJ) gained 1 to 2 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 98 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen, which fell to its lowest levels in more than three weeks, is currently trading at 98.96 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea and Taiwan are trading notably higher, while Shanghai, Malaysia and Singapore are up with modest gains. New Zealand is up marginally.

On Wall Street, stocks surged higher on Thursday, due largely to bargain hunting after recent losses. A fairly encouraging report on initial jobless claims and some positive economic data out of China and Europe too aided the surge.

The major averages all ended the day firmly positive, although the Dow underperformed its counterparts. The Dow rose 66.2 points or 0.4 percent to 14,963.7, while the Nasdaq jumped 38.9 points or 1.1 percent to 3,638.7 and the S&P 500 advanced 14.2 points or 0.9 percent to 1,657.

Major European markets too closed on a firm note on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index advanced by 0.9 percent, the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index jumped by 1.1 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude oil ended higher on Thursday, after some better-than-expected manufacturing activity data from China improved demand growth outlook for oil. Crude for October delivery ended up $1.18 or 1.1 percent at $105.03 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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