RTTNews - Amid growing optimism about the prospects of a global economic revival, markets across the Asia-Pacific region are mostly trading firm on Thursday despite a flat close on Wall Street overnight. Though gains are not much pronounced in most of the markets in the region, the mood remains cautiously positive today. With several big firms across the globe scheduled to report quarterly earnings over the next few days, action is somewhat stock specific in most of the markets.

The Australian market, which was down sharply earlier in the day, is slowly edging higher due largely to hectic buying in select energy and materials stocks. Financials and consumer staples are mostly trading lower while healthcare, industrials and telecommunications stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend.

The benchmark Australian index S&P/ASX 200, which was down by around 21 points earlier in the day, is currently down with a loss of 6.3 points or 0.2% at 4,062.2. The broader All Ordinaries index, which briefly emerged into positive territory, is down by 2.4 points or 0.1% at 4,066.5.

Among bank majors, National Australia Bank is down by over 5%. The National Bank of Australia announced it has raised A$2 billion in an international share placement that was well oversubscribed. The bank had placed 93,023,256 of new shares at A$21.50, compared with the bank's share price of A$23.58 when the placement was announced. The bank reiterated that the capital raising would raise its Tier 1 capital ratio to 8.8 per cent as at June 30. The bank will now proceed to a retail component of its capital raising, seeking A$750 million from investors.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia and ANZ Bank are trading modestly lower, while Westpac Banking Corporation is down by over 1%.

Oil and gas explorer Petsec Energy's production fell 42% in the three months to June 30, 2009 compared to the same period last year. Due to lower production and lower average gas equivalent sales price received in June, company's net revenue fell to A$17.9 million, down 51% from the previous corresponding period. However, the company has announced that it is on track to meet its production target of seven billion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent for the year 2009. The Petsec Energy stock has tumbled by over 7% today.

Santos Ltd's revenues fell 35% in the first quarter of the current financial year due to plunging oil prices. According to the latest quarterly report released by the company today, production in June quarter was 13.4 million barrels of oil equivalent, down 4% on the same period in 2008. Revenues plunged 35% to A$484 million. The Santos stock is currently trading 0.6% down from its previous close.

In another corporate news, Mega Uranium Ltd has entered into an A$110 million joint venture with a Japanese firm to progress the Canadian explorer's Lake Maitland project. The company, which is expected to soon seek an Australian stock exchange listing, revealed on Thursday it had teamed up with Japan Australia Uranium Resources Development for the project near Wiluna in the Midwest region.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar was trading at US$0.8176/80 at noon, up from Wednesday's close of US$0.8159/62. Currently, the Australian dollar is trading at

In Tokyo, after an early surge, stock prices edged lower in morning trading today amid a lack of strong cues. Iron & steel, mining and real estate stocks were among the prominent losers in opening trades. Technology stocks, however, moved up a bit tracking the gains posted by the Nasdaq.

The Japanese benchmark index Nikkei, which fell to 9,704 after moving on to 9,749 in early trading, was up 12.8 points or 0.13% at 9,736 at the end of the morning session.

Shares of Toshiba Corp. moved up by nearly 2% this morning following an announcement from its affiliate and a major U.S. semiconductor maker, SanDisk Corp., that its profit per share returned to the black based on non-Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in the April-June quarter, defying market projections.

Isuzu Motors drifted lower and lost close to 2% in early trading this morning on reports that the company likely posted a group operating loss of 20 billion yen for the April-June quarter. However, after the early setback, the stock rebounded into positive territory by late morning.

Shares of B-R 31 Ice Cream Co. edged up and snapped a losing streak on reports the ice cream chain's parent-only operating profit likely rose about 15% year on year to 600 million yen for the January-June period. After climbing up nearly 2% in early trading, the stock pared some gains subsequently.

NTT DoCoMo Inc. shares eased in morning trading on reports the company's group operating profit, based on U.S. accounting standards, likely fell 16% on the year to 250 billion yen for the April-June quarter.

According to the data released by the Ministry of Finance, Japan's merchandise trade surplus widened in June for the first time in 20 months, expanding by 388% from a year earlier to Y508 billion. The figure was a bit worse than the Y593 billion surplus expected by economists. In May the surplus was Y299.8 billion.

While exports fell by 35.7% in June for the ninth straight month, smaller than the 40.9% plunge in May, imports declined for the eighth straight monthly as it fell 41.9% in June, after falling 42.4% in May.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the mid-93 yen range early Thursday in Tokyo, marginally down from its overnight levels in New York. The dollar changed hands at 93.55-60 yen compared with Wednesday's closing quotes of 93.64-74 yen in New York and 93.50-55 yen in Tokyo. Currently, the yen is trading at 94.20 to the U.S. dollar.

The South Korean market has edged higher after suffering a setback and is currently trading with modest gains on the back of some strong buying in banking and shipbuilding stocks. Automobile and technology stocks are exhibiting weakness. The flat close on Wall Street and caution ahead of earnings reports appear to have forced a section of investors to the sidelines today.

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