The Japanese stock market opened higher on Thursday morning, taking cues from Wall Street, where the major indices ended in positive territory amid choppy trading, on expectations of a global economic recovery. Additionally, market sentiment was supported by the likelihood of the Japanese government announcing another stimulus package as early as Friday.
A deal announced in the housing sector and positive reaction to a speculation over the U.S. Treasury extending the TARP funding to the insurance sector helped the U.S. markets overlook the still-fluid economic conditions.
On Wednesday, 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.
In Asian trading, crude oil is currently up $0.53 at $49.91 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, having opened higher at 8,665 compared to its previous close of 8,595, is currently trading at 8,775, up 179.57 points or 2.09%, and the broader Topix index of all First Section Issues is gaining 15.48 points to 831.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is quoted in a range of 99.77-99.82 yen, up 0.11 yen from Wednesday's close.
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 are trading higher on hopes of recovery in the global economy. Honda Motor is rising 1.27%, Isuzu Motors is gaining 7.14%, and Toyota Motor is advancing 2.40%.
Among the major exporters, Canon is gaining 5.12%, Sony is advancing 5.22% and Sharp is rising 7.24%. Trading houses are also advancing. Mitsubishi Corp. is moving up 3.59%, Sumitomo Corp. is gaining 1.67% and Itochu is adding 3.32%.
Oil stocks are trading in positive territory. Inpex is adding 0.57%, Showa Shell is gaining 0.79%, and Nippon Oil is edging up 0.22%.
Financials are also gaining. Mitsubishi UFJ is rising 0.61%, Mizuho Financial is advancing 1.515, Sumitomo Mitsui is adding 0.87% and Resona Holdings is gaining 1.22%. Brokerage Nomura Holdings is up 2.28%.
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