RTTNews - Asian markets are mostly off their highs on Friday, with participants indulging in some profit taking after a sharp upward move. It was a fairly strong start for most of the markets in the region this morning on the back of a decent surge on Wall Street overnight.

The better-than-expected retail sales data and jobless claims figures for May had resulted in a positive close on Wall Street on Thursday. Higher crude oil prices indicated a surge in demand and lifted sentiment to an extent. Reports of an upward revision of 2010 growth forecast to 2.4 percent by the International Monetary Fund also contributed to the bullish sentiment.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China's industrial output rose 8.9 per cent in May from a year earlier. The figure was up from 7.3 per cent in April and also surpassed the 8.3 per cent seen in March, though it was still down from the 16 per cent increase logged in May of 2008.

With participants looking to take profits at higher levels, a few markets in the Asia-Pacific region are seen struggling to hold at higher levels , but the undertone continues to remain fairly buoyant.

In the Australian market, financial and industrial stocks are trading mostly higher while energy and materials stocks exhibit a mixed trend. Consumer staples and consumer discretionary stocks are not finding any significant support. Healthcare stocks are off their highs.

OZ Minerals shot up by over 15% on frenzied buying at the counter. On Thursday, OZ Minerals shareholders had voted overwhelmingly in favour of the sale of most of the miner's assets to China Minmetals Non-Ferrous Metals Co. or Minmetals, for $US1.386 billion. Minmetals late on Wednesday had increased its offer for the assets by 15 per cent from $US1.2 billion.

In other corporate news, Poseidon Nickel has agreed to sell its Western Australian gold rights to Triton Gold Limited, which is aiming to float on the stock exchange. According to a release from the company, Poseidon shareholders will be given a priority offer in the initial public offer as part of the deal. Poseidon Nickel will transfer the gold rights to Triton for a consideration of A$300,000, on successful completion of IPO and listing of Triton Gold.

The Australian benchmark S&P/ASX 200, which had moved on to 4,075 earlier in the day, is currently trading at 4,049, up 2 points over its previous close. The All Ordinaries index is also up by a couple of points at 4,048.7.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei hit its highest mark since early October 2008 when it rose to 10,089.15 this morning. With most of the stocks holding on to their gains, the Nikkei is currently trading firm at 10,077.86, up 96.53 points or 0.97% over its previous close.

While securities, consumer finance and retail stocks surged higher, mining, precision machinery and rubber product issues are struggling to force their way up.

Shares of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries rose by over 8% as investors focused on green technologies. The firm is reportedly planning to construct a coal gasification power plant in Australia that will emit far less carbon dioxide than conventional facilities of that type.

Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan surged higher on reports that group operating profit likely rose around 130% year on year to over 2.5 billion yen in the December-May term, surpassing the firm's earlier projection of 1.7 billion yen.

In the South Korean market, automobile stocks are mostly trading lower. Technology issues are exhibiting a mixed trend. Among bank stocks, Korean Exchange Bank has moved up after a flat start and is currently trading 3.5% up. KB Financial is up by 1.6%.

Steel stocks Hyundai Steel and POSCO are trading higher. Oil and energy stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend.

The Korean benchmark KOSPI, which rose to 1,436.23 in early trading today, is currently trading flat at 1,420.40, up by a slender margin over its previous close.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Taiwan, Shanghai, Singapore and Indonesia are off their highs. While the key indices of Indonesia and Singapore are down modestly, the Shanghai Composite Average and the Taiwan Weighted index are trading lower by 0.62% and 0.73% respectively.

Stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region had ended largely unchanged on Thursday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed up by less than a tenth of a percent.

Aided by better-than-expected retails sales and jobless claims data, Wall Street ended Thursday's session with modest gains. The Dow closed up 31.90 points or 0.4 percent at 8,770.92, the Nasdaq closed up 9.29 points or 0.5 percent at 1,862.37 and the S&P 500 closed up 5.74 points or 0.6 percent at 944.89.

Major European markets all closed higher following some early uncertainty. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 and the French CAC 40 Index both rose 0.6 percent, while German DAX Index closed up 1.1 percent.

Crude oil added to its best close since October as the International Energy Agency raised its demand expectations for the year. Light sweet crude oil for July delivery settled at US$72.68 per barrel, up US$1.35 for the day, extending its highest close since October. Earlier in the day, oil reached as high as US$73.23.

With key reports like the Reuters/University of Michigan's initial reading on consumer sentiment for the month of June and the Labor Department's note on import and export prices for the month of May to be released later on in the day, the mood has turned somewhat cautious at present.

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