RTTNews - Asian markets are mostly trading in positive territory on Friday with the overnight surge on Wall Street prompting investors to go in for some buying before the weekend. However, with the Shanghai market opening lower and losing further ground subsequently, some of the markets in the region are off their highs now with a section of traders choosing a cautious route.

The Australian market opened on a strong note, riding on gains posted by energy, materials, bank and healthcare stocks. Though key miners are off their highs, the market is holding on in positive territory with healthcare, utilities and a few energy stocks trading firm.

The benchmark index S&P/ASX 200, which had surged to 4,492.6 earlier in the day, is currently trading at 4,469, up 18.2 points or 0.4% over its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading up by 18.9 points or 0.4% at 4,477.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia has announced the details of a hybrid security offer, with which the country's biggest lender aims to raise about A$900 million to bolster its capital position. The bank said when it released its annual results earlier this month it was planning to raise a minimum A$700 million from hybrid securities to increase its regulatory capital reserves. The bank's stock is currently trading up by about 0.5%.

Among other key bank stocks, National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking Corporation are trading in positive territory with modest gains, while ANZ Bank has drifted down into the red and is trading with a modest loss. Diversified financial stock Macquarie Group is trading firm.

Top miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are trading modestly higher. Bluescope Steel is trading flat. Fortescue Metals, Orica, Newcrest Mining, Incitec Pivot and Lihir Gold are all exhibiting weakness.

Energy stocks Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Origin Energy and Oil Search are trading with notable gains.

Caltex Australia reported a 52% rise in first-half net profit, due to better refiner margins, but expects the second half to be challenging. Caltex said its first-half net profit on a replacement cost basis (RCOP), which excludes the impact of the rise or fall in oil prices, was A$298 million, up from A$196 million in the prior corresponding period. The result was above the company's guidance in June, but the stock is trading in the red with a 7% loss.

Automotive Holdings Group Ltd has reported a drop in annual profit but remains confident it will trade well in the current financial year. Net profit for the 12 months to June 30 was A$24.1 million, down from A$53.2 million in the previous year. Underlying net profit was A$42.2 million, compared to A$48.5 million last year. The stock is trading down by about 3.5%.

Real estate company Goodman Group said it booked a A$1.16 billion writedown on investment in properties and a A$280 million charge on derivative mark-to-market movements and other non-operating items in 2008/09. The company said revenue and other income fell to A$915.5 million from A$1.37 billion in the prior year. The stock is trading up by 3.6%.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened sharply higher on the back of a stronger euro. In early trading this morning, the Australian dollar was quoting at US$0.8390/96, up 1.45% from Thursday's close of US$ 0.8274/77. The Australian dollar is currently trading at 0.8385 to the U.S. dollar.

In Tokyo, stocks rebounded after the previous session's decline, buoyed by overnight gains on Wall Street. Some economic data released by the Japanese government fell short of expectations but the mood was fairly positive this morning.

The Nikkei 225 index ended the morning session with a modest gain of 56.7 points or 0.54% at 10,531. However, the benchmark index has slipped into the red to 10,471, recording a loss of 2.7 points, with traders pressing sales across various sectors in the afternoon session following a weak start in Shanghai.

This morning, All Nippon Airways Co. rose nearly 2% after Boeing Co. said on Thursday it will supply its long-delayed 787 Dreamliner to the company in October-December 2010. However, following resistance at higher levels, the stock has pared gains and is currently trading just modestly higher.

Saizeriya Co. shares were in demand on reports that the company will likely book a group operating profit of slightly more than 9 billion yen in the year ending August 2010, up about 10% from what is forecast for the current fiscal year.

Shares of Otsuka Corp. moved up sharply this morning, climbing as much as 17% from Thursday at one point to 6,200 yen, hitting a year-to-date high for the second straight day. The stock rose on reports that the system integrator will likely begin offering cloud computing services to business clients. Though it has drifted down to 5,750 yen now, the stock is still up with a hefty gain of 8.5%.

On the economic front, Japan's core consumer price index fell 2.2% year on year to 100.1 in July, the sharpest drop since comparable data was first recorded in 1971, the Ministry of Internal Affairs said today. This was the fifth straight month of decline for the index, which excludes volatile fresh food prices.

Meanwhile in August, core CPI for the Tokyo metropolitan area, considered a bellwether for nationwide price trends, fell 1.9% to 99.7, also the sharpest decline since 1971.

Household spending averaged 285,078 yen in July, down 2% year on year in real terms and marking the first decline in three months, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said in another report. Meanwhile, consumption by households headed by corporate wage earners fell a seasonally adjusted 1.6% to 316,623 yen, making for the second straight decline.

According to another release from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Japan's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose 0.3 percentage point from the previous month to a record 5.7% in July, surpassing the previous record high of 5.5% logged in April 2003. Meanwhile, the ratio of job offers to job seekers declined 0.01 point on the month to 0.42, marking a new low for the third consecutive month.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 93 yen zone this morning, slightly up from its late Thursday quotes in New York. The yen is currently trading at 93.70 to the U.S. dollar.

In South Korea, technology and automobile stocks are in focus today. The overnight surge on Wall Street and optimism about a global economic revival are driving stock prices up.

The Korean benchmark index KOSPI, which rose to 1,616.3 this morning, is currently up by around 5 points or 0.31% at 1,604.3.

Technology stocks are trading firm following Dell. Inc., the world's second-largest maker of personal computers, reporting better than expected results. Hynix Semiconductor and LG Electronics are trading higher by 3% and 3.7% respectively.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is up by 1.6%, while LG Display LCD is trading with a modest 0.6% gain.

In the automobile space, Hyundai Motor is gaining as much as 4%, Kia Motor is trading up by 1.3% and Ssangyong Motor is up by nearly 1%.

Steel stocks Hyundai Steel and POSCO are trading higher. Oil stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend. Among bank stocks, Woori Finance is up 1.8% over its previous close and Shinhan Financial is trading up by 0.8%. Korea Exchange Bank and KB Financial are down with modest losses.

Airlines and telecommunications stocks are trading weak. Shipbuilders are exhibiting a mixed trend.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Taiwan is up sharply with its key index Taiwan Weighted Average gaining 1.7%. Indonesia and New Zealand are trading modestly higher. Singapore is trading flat. Hong Kong and Shanghai are trading in the red with their benchmark indices Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite Average declining by 0.6% and 2.6% respectively. Stock markets across the region had closed mostly lower on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks ended with modest gains on Thursday despite an initial retreat into the red. Though stocks failed to sustain at higher levels due to uncertainty about the economic outlook, the Dow managed to sign off on a positive note for the eighth successive session.

The Dow advanced by 37.11 points, or 0.4%, to 9,580.63, the Nasdaq gained 3.30 points, or 0.2%, to close at 2,027.73 and the S&P 500 edged up by 2.86 points, or 0.3%, to 1,030.98.

Major European markets closed on the downside on Thursday. The German DAX index ended lower by about 1%, while the French CAC 40 index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index both fell by 0.5%.

After showing a notable decline in early trading on Thursday, crude oil prices rallied following a downturn in the value of the U.S. dollar. Crude for October delivery ended the session up US$1.06 at US$72.49 a barrel, after falling as low as US$69.83 earlier in the day.

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