RTTNews - Amid strong earnings reports from leading U.S. firms and some fairly encouraging news on the economic front, Asian markets are trading sharply higher on Thursday. Investors across the Asia-Pacific region are seen thronging front line counters across various sectors with renewed optimism about a global economic revival following the U.S. Federal Reserve's announcement that it expects a less severe economic contraction in 2009 and a moderately stronger recovery in 2010.

Market sentiment is up also due to reports that China's growth rate shot up in the second quarter on the back of a surge in state spending and bank lending. The data from Japan's National Bureau of Statistics depicted an economy successfully making up for a slump in exports through domestic demand. However, the bureau has cautioned that the base for recovery remained week.

The Australian market is trading firm with stocks led by those from the financial and resources sectors spearheading the rally. The benchmark index S&P/ASX 200 is up 86 points at 4,010.5 while the broader All Ordinaries index is trading 84 points up at 4,001.5.

Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking Corporation are up by 1.5%-3%. Diversified financials major Macquarie Group is trading 3.5% up.

Materials majors Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are up by 4.5% and 2.2% respectively. Other materials stocks, Newcrest Mining, Orica, Bluescope, Lihir Gold and Fortescue Metals are also trading sharply higher.

Origin Energy has signed an agreement with Carbon Conscious Limited for a carbon forest sink project. As per the deal, Origin will pay Carbon Conscious a total of A$26 million, by way of planting fees payable over three years and license and management fees payable over the 15 year term of the arrangement. Shares of Carbon Conscious Limited have surged up following the announcement. The stock is currently trading higher by as much as 17.7%. Origin Energy is currently trading up 0.8%.

Iluka Resources Ltd says its mineral sands sales revenue in the June quarter was down 45.7% from the corresponding period last year. The company scaled back its production activity in April in response to global economic conditions and high stocks in mineral sands inventories in major markets. The company's stock is up by 3.75%.

In another company news, Ausmelt Ltd has signed a co-operation agreement with Indian firm Gravita Exim Limited which provides solutions to small-scale lead recyclers. Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will market their complementary technologies globally to small and medium-scale lead recyclers. The capital goods stock is little changed from its previous closing price.

In Tokyo, stocks across the board are surging higher with investors going on a buying spree on strong Wall Street and a firm U.S. dollar. The Nikkei, which opened with a good positive gap, ended the morning session up 2.22% at 9,475.04. Though it has drifted down slightly on resumption of trading, the index is still high up in positive territory at 9409, up nearly 140 points or 1.5% over its previous close.

Shares of automobile majors Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. moved higher this morning on reports that the two firms are planning to team up on hybrid operations. While Toyota Motor is trading nearly 3% up and Mazda Motor is currently trading up by as much as 7.5%. Inspired by the news, investors are seen picking up shares of transport equipment maker Denso Corp. The stock is currently trading nearly 5% up over its previous close.

Shares of Tokyo Electron Ltd. and Kyocera Corp. are up sharply following Intel Corp's strong results. Despite trading off their highs, the two stocks are up with fairly impressive gains now.

In the currency market, the yen has lost ground against the U.S. dollar. The Japanese currency is trading at 94.08 to the U.S. dollar. Earlier, the dollar had fetched 94.23-28 yen this morning, compared with Wednesday's close of 93.46-47 yen.

In the South Korean market, a few front line stocks are trading off their morning highs due to profit taking. Still, with the mood remaining fairly bullish, the market hangs on in positive territory past noon. The KOSPI, which had moved on to 1,442.10 in early trading today, is currently up by around 10 points or 0.7% at 1431.

Bank, steel and shipbuilding stocks are trading firm. Oil stocks are also seen exhibiting a firm trend. Technology stocks and telecom stocks are trading mixed.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Taiwan and Singapore are trading sharply higher. The key indices of these markets are currently up by 1%-2%. The Indonesian and Shanghai markets are also trading in positive territory with notable gains. Stock markets across the region had extended their gains on Wednesday on recovery hopes.

On Wall Street, besides better-than expected results from Intel Corp. and Yum! Brands, the Federal Reserve's announcement that it expects a less severe economic contraction in 2009 and a moderately stronger recovery in 2010 proved strong enough triggers for traders to stay bullish during the session.

The Dow closed up by 256.72 points or 3.1% at 8,616.21, the Nasdaq climbed 63.17 points or 3.5% to 1,862.90, and the S&P 500 rose 26.84 points or 3% to 932.68.

Major European markets closed on the upside for the third session in a row, with the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index closing up by 3.1% and 2.9% respectively. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index also moved higher, climbing by 2.6%.

Crude oil rose above US$61 per barrel on Wednesday, boosted by a larger-than-expected decline in crude oil inventories last week. Violence in Nigeria and a weaker dollar also lifted prices. Light sweet crude for August delivery posted its best close in a week at US$61.54 per barrel, up US$2.02 for the day. Oil briefly touched as high as US$62.

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