RTTNews - After a positive start, the Japanese market slipped into the red, with investors indulging in some profit taking after recent strong rallies. Though the market has come off its low subsequently, the mood remains a bit cautious ahead of key earnings reports.

The benchmark index Nikkei, which edged up to 9,670 earlier this morning before drifting down to 9,608, is currently trading at 9,647, down by around 5.5 points or 0.06% from its previous close.

Bank stocks are mostly trading weak. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Shizuoka Bank and Fukuoka Financial are down by 1% - 1.5%. Bank of Yokohama and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial are trading modestly higher.

Automobiles are trading mixed. While Suzuki Motor, Toyota Motor and Nissan Motor are trading in positive territory with modest gains, Hino Motors, Mazda Motor and Mitsubishi Motors are exhibiting weakness.

Chemicals, insurance and communications stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend. Non-ferrous metals and steel stocks are mostly down in the red. Machinery and electric machinery shares are also seen struggling this morning.

Shares of drug maker Shionogi & Co have advanced this morning following an announcement by the company that it had completed some of its phase II clinical trials on an HIV candidate drug being jointly developed in the U.S. with major British player GlaxoSmithkline. The stock is currently trading nearly 5% up on its previous close.

Among other stocks in the pharma space, Astellas Pharma, Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma and Eisai are trading with notable gains.

Shares of Electric Power Development Co. moved higher this morning after the company said the previous day it will build a natural gas-fired power plant in California. This will be the firm's first plant construction project in the U.S. The company will sell power to local utilities. After moving up by nearly 3% in early trading, the stock has pared most of the gains and is up just modestly at present.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the mid-93 yen range early Wednesday in Tokyo, slightly down from its overnight levels in New York. Currently, the yen is trading at 93.52 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia has shrugged off a fall and is currently trading in positive territory. New Zealand and Taiwan are trading firm with notable gains while Singapore and Korea are up modestly. Stock markets across the region had turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday.

On Wall Street, stocks ended on a firm note on Tuesday with a slew of promising earnings reports keeping the mood positive. Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, the U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke stated that the U.S. economy is showing signs of stabilization and that the stimulus authorities pumped into the global economy late last year probably helped to avoid a collapse of the financial system. However, he has cautioned that the economy is still in a fragile state, with unemployment high and consumer spending shaky.

The Dow advanced 67.79 points or 0.8% to 8,916, the Nasdaq climbed 6.91 points or 0.4% to 1,916 and the S&P 500 rose 3.45 points or 0.4% to 955.

Major European markets all closed the day showing strong gains, with the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index finishing up by 1.3% and 1%, respectively. U.K.'s FTSE 100 index saw a 0.9% surge.

Crude oil gained for the fifth session in a row and finished at its highest level in almost three weeks on Tuesday. Investors looked ahead to the government's inventory report on Wednesday. Light sweet crude for August delivery settled at US$64.72, up 74 cents on the session. The August contract closed at the end of the session.

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