RTTNews - The Japanese stock market opened higher on Thursday and is trading firm with investors going in for some bargain hunting after previous session's negative close. However, a set of weak economic data from the U.S. is seen capping gains to an extent.

The benchmark index Nikkei, which rose to 10,378 earlier this morning, is currently trading at 10,342, up 89.3 points or 0.87% over its previous close. The Nikkei had ended with a loss of 1.2% on Wednesday.

Foods, pharmaceuticals and textiles stocks are trading mixed. Chemicals, steel, non-ferrous metals and machinery stocks are mostly trading higher.

Bank stocks are trading modestly higher. In the automobile space, Honda Motor, Suzuki Motor, Toyota Motor and Hino Motors are trading in positive territory.

McDonald's Holdings surged higher after the firm said Wednesday evening that its operating profit for the January-June term was its largest half-year figure since listing on the Jasdaq Securities Exchange. Investor sentiment was also buoyed by the firm's 1% year-on-year increase in same-store sales in July. In June, the figure dropped for the first time in 14 months, falling 2.9%. The company kept its earnings outlook for the year through December unchanged. The stock is currently up by about 2%.

Shares of telecom firm NTT Corp. are up in positive territory as the company's group operating profit for the April-June quarter shrank by a less than expected margin. The margin of profit decline at NTT was smaller than that at cell phone subsidiary NTT DoCoMo Inc. The stock is up by over 2%.

Orix Corp. is up by over 5% following its group earnings in the April-June quarter ending in the black for the second straight quarter. The general leasing company left unchanged its earnings forecast for the year ending March 2010.

According to a release by the Ministry of Finance, overseas investors were net buyers of Japanese stocks to the tune of 424.7 billion yen for the week through August 1. Purchases by these investors totaled 3,128.1 billion yen, while sales came to 2,703.5 billion yen.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 94-yen range earlier this morning, down slightly from its levels overnight in New York, where it closed at 94.91-95.01. The yen is currently trading at 95.16 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia is trading sharply higher. Shanghai is down sharply with its benchmark index going down by as much as 2.4%. New Zealand, Taiwan and Singapore are also trading weak. Korea is up modestly. Stock markets across the region had finished Wednesday's trading markedly lower.

On Wall Street, disappointing data on the health of the service sector and the labor market generated some selling pressure and dragged the major averages down to a negative close on Wednesday.

The Dow closed down by 39.22 points or 0.4% at 9,281, the Nasdaq slipped by 18.26 points or 0.9% to 1,993 and the S&P 500 ended lower by 2.93 points or 0.3% at 1,003.

Major European markets closed lower on Wednesday, with the French CAC 40 index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index both posting losses of 0.5%, while the German DAX index drifted down by 0.2%.

Crude oil prices turned modestly higher on Wednesday as optimism over an economic revival outweighed Energy Information Administration data showing another increase in weekly supplies. Light sweet crude oil rose to US$71.97 per barrel, up 55 cents on the session. Prices had earlier dipped as low as US$69.71.

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