The major markets across the Asia-Pacific region, except China, which is closed for a public holiday, are trading in positive territory on Monday morning, continuing to extend the rally on increasing confidence that the worst for the global economy is over.
The rocket launch by North Korea on Sunday and the immediate reactions to the same, including the extraordinary General Meeting of the United Nations, did not have any significant impact on the markets across the region.
Positive closing by Wall Street on Friday, comments by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that the initiatives taken up to unclog the credit markets are beginning to yield positive results, and growing optimism that the downward economic momentum has slowed down are driving markets higher.
On Friday, the Dow closed up 39.51 points or 0.5% at 8,018, the Nasdaq closed up 19.24 points or 1.2% at 1,622 and the S&P 500 closed up 8.12 points or 1% at 842.
In Asian trading, crude oil is currently up $0.64 at $53.15 a barrel in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery closed down $0.18 at $52.46 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday after dismal employment report fueled concerns over energy demand.
In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index, having opened strongly at 8,857 compared to its previous close of 8,750, is currently trading at 8,950, up 200.10 points or 2.29%, and the broader Topix index of all First Section Issues is gaining 12.49 points to 844.
Automakers, exporters and financials are leading the gains in the market. A report in the Nikkei newspaper on Saturday that the government will subsidize purchases of eco-friendly vehicles such as hybrids, also attracted buying interest among the automakers. Toyota is gaining 1.89%, Isuzu Motors is advancing 7.03% and Honda is rising 2.43%.
Exporters are also trading higher on weaker yen. Canon is advancing 3.26%, Sony is surging up 3.13% and Sharp is adding 4.92%. Trading houses are advancing. Mitsubishi Corp. is rising 2.10%, Sumitomo Corp. is gaining 2.06% and Itochu is advancing 2.27%.
In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ is gaining 1.14%, Mizuho Financial is advancing 2.44%, Sumitomo Mitsui is rising 0.82% and Resona Holdings is edging up 1.74%. Brokerage Nomura Holdings is up 2.54%.
Oil stocks are trading mixed. While Inpex is moving up 2.25% and Showa Shell is gaining 1.64%, Nippon Oil is down 0.20%.
In Sydney, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is gaining 13.30 points to 3,749 and the broader All Ordinaries index is up 13.4 points to 3,687.
On the economic front, a report showed that the TD Securities-Melbourne Institute inflation gauge fell 0.1% in March, while the annual rate rose by 2.6%.
A survey by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group showed that the total number of job advertisements fell 8.5% in March from the month before, to average 147,804 a week.
Among banking stocks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia is up 0.53%, and National Australia Bank is gaining 1.84%, while ANZ Banking Group is edging down 0.17%. Westpac is adding 1.03%, and investment bank Macquarie Group is surging up 4.58%.
In the resources sector, index leader BHP Billiton is losing 1.16%, and Rio Tinto is falling 0.88%. Gold miners are showing weakness, after gold closed lower on Friday. Lihir Gold is losing 3.23%, Newcrest Mining is dropping 1.82%, and Sino Gold is falling 3.64%.
Among energy stocks, Oil Search is edging up 0.38%, while Woodside is falling 1.20% and Santos is losing 0.23%.
In the retail sector, David Jones is slipping 0.70%, Woolworths is edging down 0.12%, and Coles' owner Wesfarmers is losing 1.55%.
In Seoul, the benchmark KOSPI Index opened Monday's session at 1,292, higher than its previous close of 1,284, and is currently trading at 1,314, up 30.13 points, or 2.36%. Almost all the sectors are advancing on optimism about recovery in the global economy.
Among technology stocks, Hynix Semiconductor is rising 12.50%, LG Electronics is advancing 1.42%, and LG Display is gaining 5.45%. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is gaining 2.70%.
Among the automakers, Hyundai Motor is gaining 2.93%, Kia Motor is advancing 1.67% and Ssangyong Motor is adding 2.33%.
Financials are also trading higher. KB Financial Group is moving up 1.59%, Shinhan Financial is advancing 3.11% and Woori Finance is gaining 2.98%.
Oil-related stocks are moving to the upside. SK Holdings is gaining 1.26% and, S-Oil is adding 0.34%.
Shipbuilders are advancing. Hyundai Heavy Industries is gaining 4.50%, Samsung Heavy Industries is adding 4.44%, and Daewoo Shipping is rising 5.84%.
In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng Index opened sharply higher at 14,921, compared to its previous close of 14,546, and is presently trading at 15,010, up 3.19% or 464.30 points.
Property stocks, financials, resources and china-related stocks are the major gainers in early trading. All the components of the Hang Seng Index, except one, are trading in positive territory.
Among property stocks, Henderson Land is gaining 6.75%, Wharf Holdings is adding 7.28%, SHK Properties is advancing 7.13%, New World Development is surging up 10.23% and Sino Land is rising 8.13%. Other property stocks such as Hang Lung Property and Sino Land are also trading in positive territory.
Financial stocks are also advancing. HSBC Holdings is up 3.64%, Bank of China is gaining 3.44%, Bank of Communications is advancing 6.56%, ICBC is rising 5.16% and Bank of East Asia is moving up 7.16%.
Insurance stocks are advancing. Ping An is gaining 4.63% and China Life is advancing 4.48%.
Resource stocks are trading higher. Aluminum Corporation of China, or CHALCO, is gaining 7.68%, CNOOC is advancing 3.36% and PetroChina is adding 5.06%
China-related stocks are also advancing. China Resources is rising 2.23%, China Mercantile Holdings is gaining 2.72% and China Overseas is adding 2.13%.
Among the other major markets, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite Index is gaining 1.69% or 25.42 points to 1,573, Singapore's Strait Times Index is advancing 38.19 points, or 2.10% to 1,859, and Taiwan's Weighted Index is trading at 5,617, up 87.15 points, or 1.58%.
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