RTTNews - The Asian markets ended in positive territory Thursday following cues from Wall Street where markets ended sharply higher. Profit taking at higher levels dragged the indices from the day's high as traders preferred to exercise caution ahead of earnings in the U.S.

In the U.S., stocks ended in positive territory for the fourth consecutive session as buying interest returned to the market in the afternoon session amid the release of better-than-expected results from JP Morgan (JPM). Earlier in the day, traders digested a Labor market report that showed a the drop in weekly jobless with a pinch of salt amid suspicion of skewness in the data.

Separately, the National Association of Home Builders released a report showing an increase in homebuilder confidence in the month of July, with homebuilders seeing an improvement in current sales conditions. Traders also digested a report from Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia which showed that the index of manufacturing activity in the Mid-Atlantic region fell by more than economists had been expecting.

The Dow closed up by 95.61 points or 1.1% at 8,712, the Nasdaq climbed by 22.13 points or 1.2% to 1,885 and the S&P 500 rose by 8.06 points or 0.9% to 941.

The Nikkei 225 Average opened higher at 9,414 compared to its previous close of 9,344 and further moved higher to a high of 9,421 on positive cues from Wall Street. However, profit taking at higher levels ahead of the long weekend amid thin volumes limited gains, as traders preferred to move to sidelines ahead of earnings from Bank of America, Citigroup and GE later in the day. The index ended in positive territory with a gain of 51.16 points, or 0.55% at 9,395. The broader Topix Index of all first section issues gained 6.04 points, or 0.7%, to 878.

Light sweet crude oil for August delivery ended the Asian trading session at $61.74, down 28 cents, after ending Thursday's session in New York at $62.02, up $0.48 a barrel on expectations of rise in energy demand.

Property developers advanced after Barclays Plc said that the outlook for the industry is positive. Barclays also upgraded ratings for the major players in the market. Mitsubishi Estate was granted overweight rating by Barclays. The stock gained 4.38%. Mitsui Fudosan gained 3.88%. Sumitomo Realty & Development Co. gained 4.05%

NEC plunged 8.86% following reports that the company is planning to raise funds for investment in lithium battery production. Sony Corp. declined 0.9% after its mobile joint venture partner Ericcson AB reported a net loss for the recent quarter on weak demand.

Financial stocks ended in positive territory. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial gained 0.75% , Mizuho Financial advanced 1.58%, Resona Holdings added 1.60% and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial edged up 0.27%.

In Australia, the All Ordinaries Index opened unchanged from its previous close at 3,988 and surged higher to a high of 4,017 in early trading. However, traders preferred to lock in gains ahead of the weekend, with the resultant selling dragging the indices lower. The index ended the day with a gain of 5.1 points, or 0.13% at 3,993. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index followed a similar trend and ended at 4,001, representing a gain of 0.12% or 5.20 points.

On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that export and import prices dropped at record pace in the second quarter compared to the first quarter, mainly due to the appreciation of Australian dollar. The export price index dipped 20.6% sequentially in the second quarter, the largest quarterly fall since the series began in the September 1974 quarter. This comes after a 4.6% fall in the first quarter, and faster than economists' expectations of a 16% drop. At the same time, import prices fell 6.4% sequentially in the three months ended June, marking the biggest quarterly decrease since the series began in the September 1981 quarter.

Energy stocks led the gains following higher crude oil prices in the international market. Woodside Petroleum gained 2.90%, and Santos advanced 1.51%. However, Oil Search remained unchanged from its previous close.

Mixed trend was witnessed among metal stocks. Rio Tinto edged up 0.15%, and BHP Billiton added 0.83%. However, Fortescue Metals slipped 2.00%, Iluka Resources lost 2.96%, and Mincor Resources fell 3.72%. Macarthur Coal declined 2.01% on profit taking.

Gold stocks also ended in negative territory. Lihir Gold lost 1.71%, Newcrest Mining edged down 0.16% and Sino Gold Mining fell 1.15%.

Banking stocks ended on a mixed note. ANZ Bank added 0.66%, Commonwealth Bank Australia edged up 0.20% and Westpac Bank rose 0.40%. However, National Australia Bank bucked the trend and lost 0.67%.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index opened sharply higher at 18,552 compared to its previous close at 18,362 following positive closing on Wall Street for the fourth successive session. The market continued to move northward on growing optimism about global recovery prospects and finally ended with a gain of 443.79 points, or 2.42%, at 18,806.

All the 42 components, except two, ended in positive territory with gains.

Telecom stocks led the gains. China Unicom soared 6.83%, Tencent Holdings surged up 7.07% and China mobile rose 1.79%.

Property stocks, financials, resource stocks and china-related stocks ended higher. Among financials, HSBC Holdings gained 2.17%, Hang Seng Bank rose 1.67%, Bank of East Asia advanced 1.75%, Bank of Communications added 1.96% and Bank of China increased 3.67%.

In property space, SHK Property surged up 4.65%, New World Development rose 3.44%, Sino Land gained 2.86% and Swire Pacific advanced 2.40%. All other property stocks also ended in positive territory.

In South Korea, the benchmark KOSPI Index ended in positive territory but well off the highs as traders preferred to book profits following a recent rally. The market opened higher at 1,443 compared to previous close at 1,432, on positive cues from Wall Street. Profit taking dragged the index down and the market finally ended with a gain of 7.88 points, or 0.55% at 1,440.

Securities firms ended higher. Leading brokerage Samsung Securities jumped 4.03% and Mirae Asset Securities gained 3.03% Telecom and building issues also ended in positive territory. Leading fixed-line communications service provider KT added 1.5%, and top builder Daewoo Engineering & Construction surged 4.53%.

Mixed trading was witnessed among technology stocks. While LG Electronics gained 3.66%, rival Samsung Electronics slipped 0.59% on profit taking.

In India, the stock market rose sharply to close near the day's high, buoyed by strong fund buying amid encouraging quarterly earnings from blue-chip companies and favorable global cues.

The BSE Sensex finished at 14,745, up 495 points or 3.47% from its previous close, and the S&P CNX Nifty jumped 144 points or 3.39% to 4,375.

Among the other major markets in the region, China's Shanghai Composite Index edged up 6.00 points, or 0.19% to close at 3.190, Singapore's Strait Times Index gained 29.94 points, or 1.25%, to close at 2,431 and Taiwan's Weighted Index advanced 70.69 points or 1.04% to close at 6,851. However, the stock market in Jakarta, Indonesia ended in negative territory following a series of blasts earlier in the day in two city hotels, with a loss of 11.60 points, or 0.55%, at 2,106.

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