RTTNews - Despite a lack of triggers from Wall Street and some early weakness, Asian markets are trading higher on Monday with some of them posting fairly sharp gains. However, with a slew of reports from U.S. set to hit the stands during the course of this week, the mood remains quite cautious in most of the markets in the region.

In Australia, select bank, materials and healthcare stocks are seen trading firm. The S&P/ASX 200, which slipped into the red after touching a high of 3,932 in morning trade, is currently up 12 points at 3,912. The broader All Ordinaries index is up by 9 points at 3,90.4.

According to a release from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, sales of new motor vehicles in Australia jumped 5.4 percent in May from the previous month.

The Australian dollar was lower at noon as investors, with the currency trading at $US0.8001/04, down from Friday's close of $US0.8043/47.

In Tokyo, stock prices recovered after a fall from higher levels and the benchmark index Nikkei is currently up by around 18 points or 0.19% at 9,804. Earlier, after moving on to 9,823, the Nikkei had slipped to 9,763 this morning.

On modest buying support, select bank, pharma and securities stocks are surging higher. Foods, real estate stocks are also seen mostly trading higher. Machinery, steel, non-ferrous stocks exhibit a mixed trend. Automobiles stocks are not making any significant headway and not much buying is seen in the chemicals space as well.

Shares of Nissan Motor Co. rose sharply in early trading today on reports the company will mass-produce electric cars in the U.S.

Hitachi Transport System is trading lower lower on concerns over a likely drop in the company's operating profit. The company is expected to log a 48% drop in group operating profit to 1.8 billion yen for the three months ending June 30, weighed down by soft demand for logistics support.

Shares in Nitori Co. are gaining in strength following an impressive report card from the company. The furniture store chain operator disclosed earnings on Friday for the March-May quarter and upgraded its forecast for the full year through February 2010. With the firm's low-price strategy successfully luring penny-pinching customers, sales for the last quarter increased 15% year on year to 76.7 billion yen, with net profit surging 36% to 8.8 billion yen. The company has boosted its full-year net profit projection from a 2% increase to 18.7 billion yen to a 14% jump to 20.9 billion yen.

Furukawa Electric is up on reports the firm and Fuji Electric Holdings will develop a next-generation power chip that will improve the performance of hybrid vehicles.

In the currency market, the yen is trading at 95.90 to the U.S. dollar. In early trading today, the U.S. dollar was quoting in the lower 96 yen range, slightly lower than its late Friday quotes in New York.

The Korean index KOSPI is up by a modest 0.35% or 5 points at 1,388. Earlier, after surging to 1,395, it had eased to 1,382.

Technology stocks are trading firm in the Korean market. Automobile and steel stocks are trading mostly lower while bank stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend.

The Hang Seng index of the Hong Kong market has gained the most today. The index, which moved on to 18,318, is currently trading at 18,267, up nearly 350 points or 2% over its previous close.

The Shanghai Composite index is up 33 points or 1.15% at 2,914. The Indonesian benchmark Jakarta Composite index is up by around 0.7% while the NZX 50 of the New Zealand market is trading nearly 0.5% up.

Stocks ended on a mixed note on Wall Street last Friday after a highly lackluster session. Traders stayed away from the ring for a major part of the session amid a lull in economic data. The Dow ended 15.87 points down at 8,539.73 and the Nasdaq closed up 19.75 points at 1,827.47. The S&P 500 closed up 2.87 points at 921.20.

Stock markets across the Asia Pacific region had ended Friday's session with solid gains. Major European markets also finished the day higher. The French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index closed up 0.9 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, while the German DAX Index closed just above the unchanged mark.

After posting modest gains in the previous two sessions, crude oil prices had closed below US$70 on Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange amid concerns that supplies will outweigh demand. Light sweet crude for July delivery settled at US$69.55 per barrel, down US$1.82, its lowest close since June 8.

Prices had reached as high as US$72.30 Friday amid early worries over violence in Nigeria. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta claimed it has blown up an Agip pipeline that delivers to a Brass export terminal. Two days earlier, the group attacked a Royal Dutch Shell pipeline.

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