The Japanese stock market opened higher on Monday morning and is trading in positive territory, led by automakers after the local currency crossed the 100-yen mark against the dollar. Positive closing on Wall Street on Friday also lifted sentiment on growing optimism that the worst of the global economic crisis is over and the initiatives of the governments will yield positive results in the near term. Additionally, comments by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that the policies initiated to unclog the credit markets are showing positive signals are supporting the markets.

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On Friday, the Dow closed up 39.51 points or 0.5% at 8,018, the Nasdaq closed up 19.24 points or 1.2% at 1,622 and the S&P 500 closed up 8.12 points or 1% at 842.

In Asian trading, Crude oil is currently up $0.64 at $53.15 a barrel in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery closed down $0.18 at $52.46 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday after dismal employment report fueled concerns over energy demand.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index, having opened strongly at 8,857 compared to its previous close of 8,750, is currently trading at 8,970, up 220.27 points, and the broader Topix index of all First Section Issues is gaining 11.85 points to 842.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the high 100 yen-range. In early morning trading, the dollar was quoted in a range of 100.76-100.78 yen, up 0.98 yen from Friday's close.

Automakers, exporters and financials are leading the gains in the market. A report in the Nikkei newspaper on Saturday that the government will subsidize purchases of eco-friendly vehicles such as hybrids, also attracted buying interest among the automakers. Toyota is gaining 1.89%, Isuzu Motors is advancing 7.03% and Honda is rising 2.43%.

Exporters are also trading higher on weaker yen. Canon is advancing 3.26%, Sony is surging up 3.13% and Sharp is adding 4.92%. Trading houses are advancing. Mitsubishi Corp. is rising 2.10%, Sumitomo Corp. is gaining 2.06% and Itochu is advancing 2.27%.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ is gaining 1.14%, Mizuho Financial is advancing 2.44%, Sumitomo Mitsui is rising 0.82% and Resona Holdings is edging up 1.74%. Brokerage Nomura Holdings is up 2.54%.

Oil stocks are trading mixed. While Inpex is moving up 2.25% and Showa Shell is gaining 1.64%, Nippon Oil is down 0.20%.

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