RTTNews - The stock market in Japan ended in positive territory on Friday following Wall Street gains where the Dow closed above the 9,000-mark for the first time since January on increasing optimism that the worst is over and the economy might start recovering from the later part of the year. Weaker local currency and expectations of rise in demand lifted market sentiment.

In the U.S., encouraging economic numbers on home sales and weekly jobless claims helped stocks stage a substantial rally in the previous session, as hopes of recovery in the later part of the year gained a further boost. Data revealed by the National Association of Realtors showed that existing home sales increased for the third consecutive month in June. Existing home sales rose by 3.6% to an annual rate of 4.89 million units in June from a downwardly revised rate of 4.72 million in May.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims rose slightly less than economists had expected. First-time claims in the week ended July 18th rose to 554,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 524,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to increase to 557,000 from the 522,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Better-than-expected results from 3M (MMM), Ford (F), Wyeth (WYE), McDonald's (MCD), AT&T (T) and Qualcomm (QCOM) as well as a rise in commodity prices also supported the upside.

The Dow closed up by 188.03 points or 2.1% at 9,069, the Nasdaq advanced by 47.22 points or 2.5% to 1.974 and the S&P 500 rose by 22.22 points or 2.3% to 976.

The Nikkei 225 Average opened sharply higher at 9,909 compared to its previous close of 9,793 on positive cues from Wall Street where the Dow Jones crossed the 9,000-mark for the first time since January. Increasing optimism about recovery later in the year and weaker local currency lifted market sentiment. Profit taking in late trading session ahead of the weekend slightly trimmed the gains and the index ended the session at 9,945, representing a gain of 151.61 points, or 1.55%. The broader Topix Index of all first section issues rose 11.79 points, or 1.30% to 920..

Light sweet crude oil for September delivery ended the Asian trading session at $67.08, down $0.08 from its previous close in New York at $67.16 a barrel on Thursday.

Panasonic, manufacturer of plasma Television sets, gained 8.3% after JPMorgan Chase & Co. revised the share-price estimate and also revised the rating to overweight from neutral.

Computer services provider Fujitsu Ltd rose 4.1% after Goldman Sachs revised the price target for the company while maintaining the rating at neutral.

Shipping companies advanced on expectations of revival in demand. Mitsui OSK Lines gained 3.50%, Kawasaki Kisen rose 3.29% and Nippon Yusen advanced 3.79%.

Advantest Corp., the world's biggest maker of memory-chip testers, gained 4.4% following reports in the press that orders for the company doubled by value in the latest second quarter of 2009.

Mixed trading was witnessed among the banking stocks. While Mitsubishi UFJ Financial slipped 1.08%, and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group lost 1.05%, Mizuho Financial gained 0.97% and Resona Holdings rose 2.65%.

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