RTTNews - Asian markets are mostly trading in positive territory on Friday with investors shrugging off weak retails sales and jobless claims data from the U.S., and picking up stocks amid rising optimism about a global economic revival. The unexpected growth in key European countries has significantly reinforced global recovery hopes. Some of the markets in the region have pared early gains and drifted lower too, but the mood remains fairly positive at present.

Aided by a strong rally in banks and resource related stocks, the Australian market rose sharply this morning and is still trading firm with most of its gains intact.

The Australian benchmark index S&P/ASX 200, which had moved on to 4,510 earlier in the day, is currently trading at 4,468, up 31.6 points or 0.7% over its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index, which hit a high of 4,507, is up by 31.7 points or 0.7% at 4,468.

Bank stocks ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking Corporation are trading firm. Macquarie Group, the diversified financials major, is trading nearly 2% up.

Mining heavyweights Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are up with notable gains.

Leighton Holdings Ltd has posted a 28% fall in annual net profit but forecast net profit to reach about A$600 million in the current year. The construction giant attributed the fall in net profit to A$440 million in the year to June 30 to a reduced contribution from property development and impairments on the company's investments. But the Leighton Holdings stock is currently trading firm with a sharp 6.7% gain. The company has announced that Thiess Services, its wholly owned subsidiary, has won a contract worth A$380 million for the South East Water Capital Works Program.

Print, distribution and media services group PMP Ltd has posted a full-year loss after a turbulent year and expects trading conditions to remain challenging this financial year. The company reported a net loss of A$27.2 million for the year ended June 30, down 134% on the A$78.9 million profit it posted in the previous financial year. The company recorded A$65.2 million in significant items, related to redundancy and restructuring costs and asset write-downs. PMP's net profit before significant items decreased 61% to A$18.2 million. The PMP stock is trading lower by 2.7%.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened firm as growth in the German and French economies buoyed investor hopes for a recovery and lifted demand for commodities-driven currencies. Earlier this morning, the Aussie was trading at US$0.8427/31, up 0.54% over Thursday's close of US$0.8382/86. The Australian dollar is currently trading at 0.8410 to the U.S. dollar.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei raced past 10,600 and hit a new 10-month high at 10,630 and was up by 110.44 points or 1.05% at 10,628 at the end of the morning session.

Non-ferrous metals stocks SUMCO, Sumitomo Metal Mining, Toho Zinc, Mitsui Mining, DOWA Holdings and Furukawa moved up sharply this morning.

Among machinery stocks, Ebara Corp. gained over 6%. Hitachi Construction Machinery, Daikin Industries, JTEKT Corp., NSK, NTN Corp. and Okuma were also trading notably higher this morning. Shares of trading companies Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsui, Toyota Tsusho, Marubeni Corp. and Itochu are up sharply this morning.

Bank stocks exhibited a mixed trend. Chemicals and pharmaceuticals were also trading mixed. Automobile stocks were mostly up in positive territory.

Shares in Digital Garage Inc. opened bid-only today before going limit-up to 105,500 yen, a year-to-date high. On Thursday evening, the Internet solutions provider said it has agreed to a capital and business alliance with Culture Convenience Club Co.

Sumitomo Realty & Development rose sharply, extending its gains to a seventh straight session. It closed the morning session up 65 yen (or 3.1%) at 2,145 yen. On Thursday, Real Estate Economic Institute Co. said July purchase contracts for condominiums in the Tokyo metropolitan area increased 5.1 percentage points on the month to 75.3%, for a year-on-year expansion of 21.8 percentage points.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 95-yen zone early Friday in Tokyo, down from its levels overnight in New York. The dollar fetched 95.27-32 yen against Thursday's close of 95.43-53 yen and 96.37-40 yen in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 95.05 to the U.S. dollar.

The Korean market is also trading firm with investors picking up stocks amid growing optimism about a global economic revival. Stocks from banking, technology, steel and oil sectors are surging higher on frenzied buying.

The Korean benchmark index KOSPI opened with a strong positive gap at 1,582 and is currently trading at 1,591, up 26.4 points or 1.7% over its previous close. The index, which rose to 1,595, a new 52-week high this morning, had ended 0.71 points or 0.01% down at 1,565 on Thursday.

Among technology stocks, heavyweight Samsung Electronics is up by 3.6%, LG Display LCD is gaining nearly 3%, while Hynix Semiconductor and LG Electronics are also trading notably higher.

Major bank stocks Korea Exchange Bank, Woori Finance, KB Financial and Shinhan Financial are up by 3% - 4.5%. Oil stock SK Holdings is up by over 3.5%. S-Oil is also trading firm. Energy stock KEPCO is up by about 2.3%. Steel stocks Hyundai Steel and POSCO are also moving up sharply.

In the automobile space, Kia Motor is trading 1.2% up and Ssangyong Motor is up by 15% again. However, Hyundai Motor is down in negative territory with a modest loss. Shares of shipbuilders are also in demand. Telecom and airlines stocks are trading mixed.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, New Zealand and Taiwan are trading notably higher. The Shanghai market is declining sharply with its benchmark Shanghai Composite Average losing over 2% on selling pressure. The Hong Kong and Indonesian markets are also trading weak now. Singapore is trading flat. Stock markets across the region had closed higher on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks managed to post modest gains overnight despite largely disappointing retail sales and jobs reports contributing to some uncertainty in the markets. Stocks saw some upside following the results of the Treasury Department's US$15 billion sale of thirty-year bonds.

The Dow finished up by 36.58 points or 0.4% at 9,398, the Nasdaq moved up by 10.63 points or 0.5% to 2,009 and the S&P 500 edged up by 6.92 points or 0.7% to 1,013.

Major European markets also closed on the upside, with the German DAX index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index posting gains of 1% and 0.8% respectively, while the French CAC 40 index ended up by 0.5%.

Crude oil finished modestly higher on Thursday as data showed the German and French economies saw growth in the second quarter, boosting the outlook for global energy demand. A weaker dollar also improved oil's hedge value. Light sweet crude closed at US$70.52 per barrel, up 36 cents on the session. Oil touched as high as US$72.21 earlier.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com