The major markets across the Asia-Pacific region are trading in positive territory on Monday on increasing optimism about global recovery in the near term. The announcement of a stimulus package in Japan on Friday and positive closing on Wall Street on Thursday led by Wells Fargo influenced trading. Profit taking at higher levels limited the gains as investors await quarterly results and outlook from companies to gain momentum as weakness in global economic conditions has already been factored and market participants are adjusting themselves to the weaker fundamentals.
The markets in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong are closed for Easter Holiday. On Thursday, the major indices on Wall Street surged up more than 3% following positive quarterly results from Wells Fargo, raising hopes that that the financials were not a lost cause. Additionally, some better-than-expected economic data contributed to the improved sentiment. The Dow closed up 246.27 points or 3.14% at 8,083, the Nasdaq closed up 61.88 points or 3.89% at 1,653 and the S&P 500 closed up 31.40 points or 3.81% at 857. The U.S. markets were closed for a public holiday on Friday.
In Asian trading, crude oil is currently down $0.38 at $51.86 a barrel in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery rose about 6% or $2.86 to $52.24 a barrel on Thursday, following better-than-expected results from retailers suggesting a possible rise in consumer spending.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index, having opened weaker at 8,930 compared to its previous close of 8,965, is currently trading at 8,988, up 24.27 points, and the broader Topix index of all First Section Issues is gaining 3.62 points to 850.
On the economic front, a report released by the Bank of Japan showed that Japan's corporate goods prices index or the producer price index fell 0.2% month-over-month in March, in line with the expectations. During February, the index declined 0.5%. Producer prices have been seeing a declining trend since September 2008.
Exporters and trading houses are moving to the upside. Among the major exporters, Canon is gaining 1.89%, Sony is adding 0.39% and Sharp is moving up 0.54%. Trading houses are also rising. Mitsubishi Corp. is advancing 2.78%, Sumitomo Corp. is rising 0.77% and Itochu is gaining 4.78%.
Automakers are also advancing. Honda Motor is gaining 0.53%, Isuzu Motors is surging up 6.45% and Toyota Motor is adding 0.26%.
Mixed trend is being witnessed among financials. Mitsubishi UFJ is gaining 2.13%, and Resona Holdings is adding 1.12%. However, Sumitomo Mitsui is losing 1.29%, Mizuho Financial is slipping 0.51% and brokerage Nomura Holdings is edging down 0.79%.
Oil stocks are trading mixed. While Inpex is edging up 0.14%, and Nippon Oil is adding 0.59%, Showa Shell is losing 1.31%.
In Seoul, the benchmark KOSPI Index opened Monday's session at 1,342, higher than its previous close of 1,336, and is currently trading at 1,344, up 7.61 points, or 0.65%.
On the economic front, a report released by Bank of Korea revealed that spending on private education during the year 2008 increased 7.6% despite weaker financial and economic conditions in the country. According to the report, parents in South Korea spent 18.72 trillion won, equivalent to $14 billion, during 2008, 7.6% more than the earlier year.
Automakers and shipbuilders are leading the gains,
Among the automakers, Hyundai Motor is rising 2.47%, and Kia Motor is advancing 3.20%. Ssangyong Motor is gaining 6.12%. Among the shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries is gaining 1.92%, Daewoo Shipping is rising 4.68%, and Samsung Heavy Industries is advancing 5.47%.
Financials are trading higher. While KB Financial Group is gaining 1.70%, Shinhan Financial is trading unchanged from the previous close and Woori Finance is edging up 0.30%.
Technology stocks are trading mixed. While Hynix Semiconductor is gaining 1.85%, LG Electronics is falling 0.40%, and LG Display is edging down 0.31%. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is falling 2.49%.
Among oil-related stocks, S-Oil is losing 0.81%, while SK Holdings is edging down 0.84%.
Among the other major markets open for trading, China's Shanghai Composite Index is gaining 2.31% or 56.57 points at 2,501, Singapore's Strait Times Index is up 49.60 points or 2.71% at 1.878, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite Index is rising 4.63% or 67.92 points at 1,534, and Taiwan's Weighted Index is advancing 1.18% or 68.36 points to 5,850.
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