The major markets across the Asia-Pacific region, open for trading on Monday, ended in positive territory on expectations of a recovery in global economy in the near term. Positive closing on Wall Street on Thursday, led by Wells Fargo, and comments over the weekend by President Barack Obama that glimmers of hope are visible on the horizon of U.S economy, coupled with the announcement of a stimulus package by Japan to revive the economy, influenced sentiment across the markets. However, the Nikkei 225 Index ended in negative territory as investors sold off defensive stocks to move money into cyclical stocks on expectations of a rise in lending to businesses post stimulus package.

On Thursday, the major indices on Wall Street surged up more than 3% following positive quarterly results from Wells Fargo, raising hopes that that the financials were not a lost cause. Additionally, some better-than-expected economic data contributed to the improved sentiment. The Dow closed up 246.27 points or 3.14% at 8,083, the Nasdaq closed up 61.88 points or 3.89% at 1,653 and the S&P 500 closed up 31.40 points or 3.81% at 857.

The markets in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Malaysia are closed for Easter Holiday. Markets across Europe are also closed on the eve of Easter festival.

In Asian trading, crude oil ended lower by $0.75 at $51.49 a barrel in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery rose about 6% or $2.86 to $52.24 a barrel on Thursday following better-than-expected results from retailers suggesting a possible rise in consumer spending.

In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index, after having opened weaker at 8,930 compared to its previous close of 8,965, oscillated between gain and loss in volatile trading before finally closing weaker by 39.68 points, or 0.44%, at 8,934. The broader Topix Index of all First Section issues, however, closed in positive territory with a gain of 3 points, at 849.

On the economic front, a report released by the Bank of Japan showed that Japan's corporate goods prices index or the producer price index fell 0.2% month-over-month in March, in line with the expectations. During February, the index declined 0.5%. Producer prices have been seeing a declining trend since September 2008.

Telecommunication stocks ended lower as investors preferred to switch from defensive stocks to cyclical stocks in anticipation of increased lending to businesses as outlined in the new stimulus package announced by Prime Minister Taro Aso on Friday.

The second-largest wireless company in the country, KDDI Corp, declined 3.85% and Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Company lost 2.59%. NTT Docomo shed 2.09% and NTT Data Corp slipped 2.63%.

Trading houses gained on the stimulus package announcement. Mitsubishi Corp. gained 4.01%, Sumitomo Corp. advanced 2.67% and Itochu rose 5.70%.

Automakers advanced on hopes of global recovery. Honda Motor gained 0.53%, Isuzu Motors rose 6.45% and Toyota Motor edged up 0.77%.

Exporters ended mixed on profit taking. Among the major exporters, Canon edged up 0.31%, but Sony lost 1.16% and Sharp edged down 0.22%.

Financial stocks ended mixed. Mitsubishi UFJ gained 2.71%, and Resona Holdings added 1.05%. However, Sumitomo Mitsui fell 2.25%, Mizuho Financial lost 1.01% and brokerage Nomura Holdings declined 1.42%.

Oil stocks ended mixed. While Inpex gained 1.12%, and Nippon Oil added 1.78%, Showa Shell slipped 0.76%.

In Seoul, the benchmark KOSPI Index closed higher by 2.22 points or 0.17% at 1,338.

On the economic front, a report released by Bank of Korea revealed that spending on private education during the year 2008 increased 7.6% despite weaker financial and economic conditions in the country. According to the report, parents in South Korea spent 18.72 trillion won, equivalent to $14 billion, during 2008, 7.6% more than the earlier year.

Automakers, shipbuilders and financials gained, while technology and oil stocks ended in negative territory.

Among the automakers, Hyundai Motor gained 2.16%, Kia Motor advanced 4.75% and Ssangyong Motor rose 6.41%. Among the shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries added 0.96%, Daewoo Shipping advanced 4.26%, and Samsung Heavy Industries gained 4.10%.

In the financial space, KB Financial Group gained 2.49%, Shinhan Financial remained unchanged from previous close, and Woori Finance edged up 0.40%.

Technology stocks ended lower on profit taking. Hynix Semiconductor edged down 0.74%, LG Electronics slipped 0.71%, and LG Display is down 0.78%. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics fell 3.32%.

Among oil-related stocks, S-Oil lost 1.21% and SK Holdings fell 2.18%.

Among the other major markets in the region, China's Shanghai Composite Index gained 2.84%, or 69.5 points to close at 2,514, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite Index rose 5.09%, or 74.65 points, to close at 1,540, Singapore's Strait Times Index advanced 45.72 points to 1,874 and Taiwan's Weighted Index rose 1.31% or 75.68 points, to close at 5,858.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com