RTTNews - The markets across the Asia-Pacific region ended in positive territory on Friday following sharp gains in Wall Street on Thursday where the Dow Jones surged past the 9,000-mark for the first time since January on increasing optimism that the worst for the economy is over and recovery might start from the later part of the year. .

In the U.S., encouraging economic numbers on home sales and weekly jobless claims helped stocks stage a substantial rally in the previous session, as hopes of recovery in the later part of the year gained a further boost. Data revealed by the National Association of Realtors showed that existing home sales increased for the third consecutive month in June. Existing home sales rose by 3.6% to an annual rate of 4.89 million units in June from a downwardly revised rate of 4.72 million in May.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims rose slightly less than economists had expected. First-time claims in the week ended July 18th rose to 554,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 524,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to increase to 557,000 from the 522,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Better-than-expected results from 3M (MMM), Ford (F), Wyeth (WYE), McDonald's (MCD), AT&T (T) and Qualcomm (QCOM) as well as a rise in commodity prices also supported the upside.

The Dow closed up by 188.03 points or 2.1% at 9,069, the Nasdaq advanced by 47.22 points or 2.5% to 1.974 and the S&P 500 rose by 22.22 points or 2.3% to 976.

The Nikkei 225 Average opened sharply higher at 9,909 compared to its previous close of 9,793 on positive cues from Wall Street where the Dow Jones crossed the 9,000-mark for the first time since January. Increasing optimism about recovery later in the year and weaker local currency lifted market sentiment. Profit taking in late trading session ahead of the weekend slightly trimmed the gains and the index ended the session at 9,945, representing a gain of 151.61 points, or 1.55%. The broader Topix Index of all first section issues rose 11.79 points, or 1.30% to 920..

Light sweet crude oil for September delivery ended the Asian trading session at $67.08, down $0.08 from its previous close in New York at $67.16 a barrel on Thursday.

Panasonic, manufacturer of plasma Television sets, gained 8.3% after JPMorgan Chase & Co. revised the share-price estimate and also revised the rating to overweight from neutral.

Computer services provider Fujitsu Ltd rose 4.1% after Goldman Sachs revised the price target for the company while maintaining the rating at neutral.

Shipping companies advanced on expectations of revival in demand. Mitsui OSK Lines gained 3.50%, Kawasaki Kisen rose 3.29% and Nippon Yusen advanced 3.79%.

Advantest Corp., the world's biggest maker of memory-chip testers, gained 4.4% following reports in the press that orders for the company doubled by value in the latest second quarter of 2009.

Mixed trading was witnessed among the banking stocks. While Mitsubishi UFJ Financial slipped 1.08%, and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group lost 1.05%, Mizuho Financial gained 0.97% and Resona Holdings rose 2.65%.

In Australia, the All Ordinaries Index opened slightly higher at 4,088 compared to its previous close at 4,073 and surged higher following sharp gains in Wall Street overnight on increasing optimism that the worst for the U.S economy is over and can start recovering from the later part of the year. After initial spurt above the 4,100-mark, the market stabilized and trimmed some of the gains as traders exercised caution amid weak economic fundamentals and preferred to lock gains. The Index traded above the unchanged line throughout the session and ended with a gain of 24.70 points, or 0.61% at 4,097.30. Tthe benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index also followed a similar trend and ended at 4,090, representing a gain of 25.70 points, or 0.60%.

Metal stocks gained following rise in commodity prices in the international market. BHP Billiton gained 1.11%, Rio Tinto edged up 0.10%, and Gindalbie Metals surged 9.09%. However, Fortescue Metals bucked the trend and shed 1.81% on profit taking.

Oil stocks ended mixed. While Woodside Petroleum advanced 1.81% on higher crude oil prices, Oil Search Ltd and Santos slipped 0.41% each respectively on profit taking.

Banking stocks also showed mixed response with National Australia Bank edging down 0.36%. However, the other banks ended in positive territory on increasing optimism about recovery. ANZ Bank gained 1.07%, Commonwealth Bank rose 2.11% and Westpac Banking advanced 2.45%.

Macquarie Group shares ended weaker, after commencing trading after halt on Thursday, following news that Macquarie Airports took over the management control after Macquarie Group agreed to relinquish control. Macquarie Group lost 4.31% and Macquarie Airports slumped 6.82%.

Gold stocks ended mixed on profit taking. While Lihir Gold sfell 1.75 % and Sino Gold shed 0.56%, Newcrest Mining managed to end in the green with a gain of 0.13%.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index ended in the positive territory on increasing confidence that the worst for the global economy is over and the economy may start recovery in the later part of the year. The market opened higher above the psychological 20,000-mark at 20,064 compared to its previous close at 19,818 mirroring the gains on Wall Street Thursday. The market could not sustain the gains and immediately drifted below the unchanged line on profit taking. However, the market recovered on recovery hopes and ended above the unchanged line amid volatile trading. The market finally ended with a gain of 165.09 points, or 0.83% at 19,983..

China-related stocks and resource stocks led the gains on expectation of higher demand. Profit taking at higher levels in property space trimmed the gains.

Aluminum Corp. of China or CHALCO surged up 6.14% on hopes of higher demand. Among other resource stocks, Petro China gained 1.66% and CNOOC rose 1.36%. China Shenhua Energy soared 4.24%.

In telecom space, Tencent Holdings added 0.49%, China Unicom edged up 0.36% and China Mobile advanced 0.92%.

In property space, SHK Property fell 1.71%, Swire Pacific lost 3.03%, Sino Land edged down 0.80% and Wharf Holdings slumpted 2.95%.

In South Korea, the benchmark KOSPI Index ended in positive territory taking cues from Wall Street on optimism about recovery later in the year. The market opened sharply higher at 1,508 compared to previous close at 1,496 on Wall Street cues. However, profit taking at higher levels dragged the index lower and the market ended with a gain of 6.10 points or 0.41% at 1,503.

The Indian market reversed its early loss and ended notably higher on Friday, as European shares turned positive after an initial slide and the U.S. index futures pointed towards a firm opening by the U.S. markets on Friday, despite disappointing results from Microsoft, Amazon. com Inc and American Express.

The BSE Sensex finished at at 15,379, up 148 points or 0.97% from its previous close, and the S&P CNX Nifty rose 45 points or 0.99% to 4,569.

Among the other major markets in the region, China's Shanghai Composite Index gained 44.11 points, or 1.33% to close at 3,372, Singapore's Strait Times Index advanced 48.53 points, or 1.95% to close at 2,533 and Indonesia's Jakarta Composite Index added 24.94 points, or 1.15% to close at 2,186. However, Taiwan's Weighted Index bucked the trend and slipped into red with a loss of 7.60 points, or 0.11% at 6,973.

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