The market in Japan ended sharply higher on Thursday following speculation that the Japanese government is close to announcing a $154 billion stimulus package to revive the economy. A Surprise rise in machinery orders for February 2009, the first time in five months, a decision by the Bank of Korea to keep interest rates frozen at 2% on indications that the fall in the economic activity has moderated of late as well as positive closing on Wall Street also lifted sentiment.

On Wall Street, the Dow closed up 47.55 points or 0.6% at 7,837, the Nasdaq closed up 29.05 points or 1.9% at 1,591 and the S&P 500 closed up 9.61 points or 1.2% at 825.16, amid choppy trading session, on optimism that the global recovery will be on course despite poor corporate earnings for the first quarter of 2009.

In Asian trading, crude oil ended $1.49 higher at $50.87 a barrel in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery closed up $0.23 at $49.38 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday after an Energy Information Administration data revealed a smaller-than-expected build in crude oil stockpiles from last week.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index gained 3.74% or 321.05 points to 8,916, and the broader Topix Index for all First Section Issues advanced 26.55 points to 842.

On the economic front, core machine orders in Japan unexpectedly rose 1.4% in February compared to the previous month, the government said on Thursday, marking the first increase in five months. That compares to analysts' expectations for a 6.9% decline after the 3.2% fall in the previous month. On an annual basis, core machine orders fell 30.1% - beating forecasts for a 36.7% decline after the 39.5% fall a month earlier.

Automakers ended higher following an announcement by the US Treasury Department that automakers GM and Chrysler have launched auto supplier support programs backed by up to $5 billion in U.S. government funds. Honda Motor gained 1.67%, Isuzu Motors rose 9.52%, and Toyota Motor gained 4.27%.

Among the major exporters, Canon added 5.47%, Sony gained 9.83% and Sharp soared 10.87% Trading houses also ended higher. Mitsubishi Corp. gained 4.01%, Sumitomo Corp. added 2.34% and Itochu added 3.32%.

Oil stocks ended in positive territory. Inpex edged up 0.43%,, Showa Shell added 0.90% and Nippon Oil gained 0.22%.

Financials also ended in positive territory following reports that the major banks in the U.S would pass the stress test. Mitsubishi UFJ soared 6.97%, Mizuho Financial surged 10.05%, Sumitomo Mitsui advanced 5.25%and Resona Holdings gained 5.47%.

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