RTTNews - Despite some profit taking after recent strong gains, most Asian markets surged higher on Wednesday. Gains, however, were not any significantly pronounced as investors chose to exit counters at small rallies.

None too impressive cues from Wall Street and lack of triggers from the Asia-Pacific region appear to have made the participants a bit defensive today.

After a choppy ride, the Dow ended lower by 29.23 points yesterday as traders cut down long positions and took profits as data released by the U.S. Commerce Department showed a decline in housing starts in April to an annual rate of 458,000 units, compared to March's revised rate of 525,000 units, suggesting a strong reacceleration is still some way off. New restrictions placed on the credit card industry sent financial stocks tumbling down sharply.

The Japanese economy shrank at an annual pace of 15.2 percent in real terms in the period from January to March due to weakness in external and domestic demand amid the global economic crisis. The contraction, the sharpest plunge since 1955, did not have any significant negative impact on the stock market, as the fall was not as steep as an earlier prediction of a 16.3% contraction.

The Nikkei 225 average, riding on the strength of resource stocks, rallied sharply to 9,399 in early trading, and despite losing some ground on profit taking, was up by 40.17 points or 0.43% at 9,331 at the end of the morning session.

Automobile, iron & steel, foods, construction, chemicals and pharmaceuticals surged higher in the Japanese stock market. Bank stocks were trading mixed at the break.

In Australia, materials stocks are trading higher. Energy stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend and banking issues are showing weakness. Industrials and healthcare stocks are trading lower while utilities are trading firm. The benchmark Australian index S&P/ASX 200, which has slipped after opening higher, is off its low, but is still down in the red at 3,809, down 8.50 points from its previous close. The All Ordinaries index is trading 6.60 points down at 3,794.

In South Korea, automobile, technology, airline, energy and steel stocks are trading mixed, while bank and shipbuilding stocks are struggling for support. The KOSPI, moving in a choppy fashion since trade commenced this morning, is currently up 2.96 points at 1,431.

The NZX 50 index of the New Zealand Stock Exchange is trading up 9.07 points at 2,800. The Hang Seng of the Hong Kong market is down modestly by 38.20 points at 17,506.

The Indonesian and Shanghai indices are trading slightly lower while the Taiwan Weighted Average and Straits Times are trading modestly higher.

Most of the markets in the Asia-Pacific region had finished sharply higher on Tuesday. Major European markets turned in largely modest gains. The French CAC 40 Index closed up 0.9%, while the German DAX Index also rose, finishing up by 2.2%. Meanwhile, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index also saw some strength on the day, closing up by 0.8%.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com