Japan stocks are expected to move sharply higher at Friday's open, following the major gains overnight on Wall Street. Better-than-expected results from financial giant Wells Fargo pushed U.S. stocks higher by about 3 percent.

Japan stocks moved sharply higher on Thursday, boosted by better than expected core machinery orders data which posted a gain for February following four months of declines.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Average closed with a gain of 321.05 points or 3.7 percent. Of the Nikkei component stocks, 208 closed higher, 14 were lower and 3 were unchanged.

The broader Topix Index advanced 26.55 points or 3.3 percent to 841.81.

The machinery orders report boosted the equipment makers, with Hitachi Construction machinery up 58 yen or 4,54 percent, Komatsu up 70 yen or 6.01 percent and Mitsubishi Heavy up 17 yen or 5.23 percent.

In the electronics sector, Sharp Corp rose 87 points or 10.7 percent, Pioneer jumped 36 yen or 18.56 percent, Sony gained 180 yen or 7.83 percent and Canon was up 160 yen or 5.45 percent.

The big banks put on a show of strength, with Mitsubishi UFJ up 34 yen or 6.97 percent, Sumitomo Mitsui was up 180 yen or 5.25 percent, Mizuho Financial up 20 yen or 10.05 percent and Resona Holdings up 72 yen or 5.47 percent.

Overseas, stocks shot higher on Wall Street after banker Wells Fargo reported profits that were well above analysts' estimates. At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 246.27 points or 3.14 percent at 8,083.38. The Nasdaq Composite index advanced 61.88 points or 3.89 percent at 1,652.54 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 31.40 points or 3.81 percent to 856.56.

The Australian and New Zealand markets are closed Friday for the Good Friday observance.

On Friday's calendar of economic news, the Bank of Japan is scheduled to release minutes from the monetary policy committee on March 17 and 18.At the meeting, the bank left its key interest rate unchanged at 0.10 percent and decided to raise its monthly government bond purchases to facilitate smooth money market operations.

Japan also is set to release March numbers for M2 money supply and bank lending data.

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