RTTNews - The mood in stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region is quite buoyant on Wednesday, thanks to encouraging consumer confidence data from the U.S. Most of the Asian markets had finished on a weak note on Tuesday after North Korea conducted a nuclear test.

Wall Street came back strongly on Tuesday after a long weekend with healthy consumer data raising hopes of an economic rebound. The Conference Board's reading on consumer confidence for May reached its highest level since September 2008, generating some optimism about the outlook for consumer spending.

Disappointing housing price data had pushed down stock prices earlier in the session. The major averages moved roughly sideways in the second half of the day, holding onto strong gains. The Dow closed up 196.17 points or 2.4 percent at 8,473.49, the Nasdaq rose 58.42 points or 3.5 percent to 1,750.43 and the S&P 500 closed up 23.33 points or 2.6 percent at 910.33.

The strong rally on Wall Street is proving to be a strong enough trigger for investors in the Asia-Pacific region today. The Australian market, which had finished on a firm note on Tuesday, extended its gains and is currently trading firm with energy, materials, healthcare and consumer discretionary stocks riding the momentum.

The Australian benchmark index S&P/ASX 200, which rose to 3,837 earlier this morning, has come off that high, but is still trading in positive territory at 3,816.10, up 27.70 points over its previous close. The All Ordinaries index is up 27.50 points at 3,809.10.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei average was up 1.46% or 135.99 points at 9,446.80 at the end of the morning session as strong cues from Wall Street and a weaker yen triggered some hectic buying across the board.

Bank, automobile, machinery, real estate, insurance and communications stocks rallied in the Japanese market. Fairly strong buying was seen in machinery, foods and mining sectors as well.

Automobile stocks Honda Motor, Nissan Motor and Toyota were in focus on reports the companies are planning to launch new hybrid versions by end 2010.

In economic news, Japan logged its third straight trade surplus in April as exports continued to fall less sharply, raising hopes overseas markets may help the country put the worst of its nasty recession behind it. According to the Finance Ministry, exports fell 39.1% on year, a more moderate decline than March's 45.6% plunge. Imports fell 35.8% as domestic demand for foreign goods remained weak.

In the currency market, the Yen is trading at 95.38 to the U.S. dollar. The dollar rose to the lower 95 yen-level early Wednesday in Tokyo, following its overnight rise in New York on concern about North Korea's nuclear activity.

In South Korea, stocks pared early gains as investors pressed sales at a few front line counters following North Korea test-firing another nuclear missile, but rebounded fairly sharply on finding good support at lower levels. Riding on the strength of steel and bank stocks, the KOSPI is currently up by 14.29 points or 1.04% at 1,386.48.

Among other markets in the region, Hong Kong is trading sharply higher with its benchmark index Hang Seng gaining 2.37%. The Taiwan Weighted average is up 2.43% over its previous close. Markets in Indonesia and Singapore are exhibiting strength, with their key indices moving up by around 1.5%. New Zealand's NZX 50 is up nearly a per cent while Shanghai's Shanghai Composite Average is up by 0.53%.

The stock markets in Asia had finished mostly lower on Tuesday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index slipped by 0.4 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.8 percent.

Major European markets closed notably higher on Tuesday after seeing some earlier weakness. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index closed up 1.1 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX finished up by 1.1 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

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