RTTNews - After opening on a strong note following a surge on Wall Street overnight, the Japanese market struggled for a while on Thursday with investors turning cautious and indulging in some selling. However, with the mood turning a bit positive again, the market has rallied higher and is currently seen trading firm.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which rose to 10,255.8 this morning but dropped down to 10,210 subsequently, is currently trading at 10,272, up 68 points, or 0.67%, over its previous close. The Nikkei had ended at 10,204 on Wednesday, recording a loss of 80.96 points, or 0.79%, for the session.

Following a surge in crude oil prices, oil-related stocks moved up sharply this morning. A fair amount of buying was seen in transport and mining stocks as well.

Inpex Corp. and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. rallied higher in morning trading on a sharp overnight rise in crude oil futures in New York and London, which boosted investor expectations for higher profits. Nippon Mining Holdings, Nippon Oil Corporation and Showa Shell Sekiyu are also trading firm.

Chemicals and pharmaceuticals stocks are trading mixed. Machinery and electric machinery stocks are also exhibiting a mixed trend. Foods stocks are mostly trading in positive territory. Automobile and banking sectors witness stock specific action. Select non-ferrous metals stocks are surging higher.

Kobe Steel opened on a strong note today on reports that the government will provide subsidies to the steelmaker and four other firms to help them develop parts and materials used in nuclear reactors, in a bid to boost exports of nuclear power plants. However, after early buoyancy, the stock has drifted lower and is currently trading around its previous closing price.

Shares in Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. are trading higher by nearly 3% after the firm said Wednesday evening that it has taken an equity stake in Nickel Asia Corp., the largest miner in the Philippines.

On the economic front, according to the data released by the Ministry of Finance today, overseas investors were net buyers of Japanese stocks to the tune of 274.1 billion yen during the week of August 9-15, marking the fifth straight week of capital inflow. Foreign investors bought 2.99 trillion yen in Japanese stocks and sold 2.71 trillion yen worth. The net figure was close to the previous week's 293.1 billion yen. Japanese investors were net sellers of foreign stocks for the second straight week, unloading a net 87.2 billion yen worth of shares.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 94 yen range early Thursday in Tokyo, little changed from its levels overnight in New York. The dollar fetched 94.10-94.15 yen against Wednesday's close of 94.03-94.13 yen in New York and 94.28-94.30 yen in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 94.10 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore are trading higher. Taiwan is down sharply with its benchmark index suffering a 2% loss. The Korean market is trading flat. Stock markets across the region had finished notably lower on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, stocks recovered from early weakness and finished notably higher on Wednesday, due largely to a jump in oil demand. Despite moving in a choppy fashion during the later part of the session, the major averages finished near their best levels of the day. The Dow closed up by 61.22 points or 0.7% at 9,279.16, the Nasdaq moved up by 13.32 points or 0.7% to 1,969.24 and the S&P 500 ended up by 6.79 points or 0.7% at 996.46.

Major European markets ended the day little changed, with the French CAC 40 index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index finishing just below the unchanged mark, while the German DAX index fell by 0.4%.

Crude oil soared to its best close in more than two months on Wednesday after an Energy Information Administration report showed that crude inventories unexpectedly fell sharply in the recent week. Light sweet crude for September settlement rallied to US$72.42 a barrel, up US$3.23 on the session.
Prices reached as high as US$72.80 earlier in the day.

The EIA said crude oil inventories decreased by 8.4 million barrels, while analysts expected to see an increase of about 1.1 million barrels for the week. At 343.6 million barrels, however, crude oil inventories remain above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year.

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