RTTNews - After seven successive days of gains, the Japanese stock market is up sharply once again on Friday morning with investors lapping up stocks following a strong close on Wall Street overnight and on rising optimism about a global economic recovery. A weaker yen is also contributing to the surge this morning.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index, which opened at 9,904, is currently up by 142 points or 1.44% at 9,935. The Nikkei had ended up 69.8 points or 0.72% at 9,793 on Thursday despite a weak start.

Shares of automobile majors Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor and Suzuki Motor Corp. are up by 2%-3% amid fading uncertainty over the global economy and corporate earnings. Hino Motors, Isuzu Motors and Mitsubishi Motors are also trading sharply higher this morning.

Shares of electrical machinery makers Meidensha Corp. and GS Yuasa Corp. are also up sharply this morning following the launch of the i-MiEV electric car by Mitsubishi Motors. Meidensha supplies motors and inverters for the car, while GS Yuasa supplies batteries.

In the banking space, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Resona Holdings, Chiba Bank, Sumitomo Trust and Banking and Shizuoka Bank and Bank of Yokohama are trading with notable gains.

Steel stocks JFE Holdings, Pacific Metals, Kobe Steel, Sumitomo Metal Industries and Nippon Steel are up by 2%-4%. Sumitomo Metal Mining, Toho Zinc, Mitsubishi Materials are the prominent gainers in the non-ferrous metals space.

Pharmaceuticals and chemicals stocks are mostly trading higher. Construction and textiles stocks are also up in positive territory. Foods stocks are trading mixed.

Shares of Fast Retailing Co. drifted down into the red after opening sharply higher this morning. The stock has tumbled, as investors brushed aside reports that the company will open its Uniqlo outlets inside major department stores, including Seibu.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar stayed in the upper 94 yen range early Friday in Tokyo, almost unchanged from its overnight levels in New York. The dollar fetched 94.93-98 yen, compared with Thursday's closing quotes of 94.87-97 yen in New York and 94.35-36 yen in Tokyo. Currently, the yen is trading at 94.66 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore are trading sharply higher with their benchmark indices gaining 1.3%-1.6%. Shanghai, South Korea and Taiwan are also trading in positive territory with notable gains. Stock markets across the region had finished on the upside on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks surged higher and ended on a firm note on Thursday on encouraging reports from the National Association of Realtors and the Labor Department. While existing home sales rose by a better-than-expected 3.6% in June, jobless claims rose by slightly less than economists had expected. Better-than-expected results from a few top firms including 3M, Ford and Wyeth also aided sentiment to a notable extent.

The Dow closed up by 188.03 points or 2.1% at 9,069.29 while the Nasdaq extended its winning streak to a twelfth successive session and settled 47.22 points or 2.5% up at 1,973.60. The S&P 500 moved up by 22.22 points or 2.3% to 976.29.

Major European markets also closed notably higher. While the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index finished up by 2.5% and 2.1% respectively, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index posted a 1.5% gain.

Crude oil prices turned sharply higher on Thursday as an encouraging housing report provided a boost for the prospects of energy demand. The rally took prices to a three-week high. Light sweet crude oil for September delivery closed at US$67.16, up US$1.76 on the session. Prices touched as high as US$67.49 after hitting as low as US$64.40 earlier in the session.

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