The stock market in Japan gained more than 4% on Thursday tracking the U.S. markets, where all the indices advanced for the second day in succession on unexpected positive economic data. A smaller-than-expected decline in construction spending for February, an increase in the index of pending home sales for February and a higher-than-expected manufacturing sector index of the ISM for March, more than offset the bigger-than-expected decline in non-farm private employment for March. Better-than-expected U.S. auto sales in March spurred local automakers, which spearheaded the market advance.
On Wednesday, the Dow closed up 153 points or 2.01% at 7,762, the Nasdaq gained 23 points or 1.51% to 1,552, and the S&P 500 added 13 points or 1.66% to finish at 811.
In Asian trading, crude gained moderately in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery closed at $48.39 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday, down $1.27 a barrel, after hitting an intraday high of $48.96 and a low of $47.26, after an Energy Information Administration data revealed a build in crude oil stockpiles from last week.
In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index gained 367.87 points, or 4.4%, to 8,720, and the broader Topix index of all First Section Issues advanced 32.87 points, or 4.14% to 827.
On the economic front, the Bank of Japan said Thursday that the monetary base in Japan was up 6.9% year-over-year in March to 94.46 trillion yen. That's up from 93.65 trillion yen in February, which saw a 6.4% annual increase. Seasonally adjusted, the monetary base was up 5.6% month-over-month at 94.3 trillion yen. Through the first three months of 2009, the monetary base was up an annual 5.7% and a seasonally adjusted 17.2% compared to the previous quarter
In another release, the Ministry of Finance said that Japanese investors bought a net 663.1 billion yen in foreign bonds and also purchased a net 246.4 billion yen in foreign stocks for the week ending March 28. Meanwhile, foreigners sold a net 189.7 billion yen in Japanese stocks and also sold a net 719.8 billion yen in foreign bonds.
Automobiles, exporters and financials led the gains in the market. Honda Motor advanced 10.83%, Hino Motors gained 10.53%, Nissan Motor Company soared 13.77% and Toyota Motor added 5.50%.
Exporters gained on hopes of a revival in the U.S. economy. Canon gained 3.97%, Sony soared 9.18% and Sharp added 4.02%.
Positive comments from U.S. Treasury Timothy Geithner propped up the financials. Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan's biggest bank, advanced 6.67%, Mizuho Financial surged up 8.97%, Sumitomo Mitsui gained 7.41% and Resona Holdings added 4.53%.
The moderate rebound in crude oil prices helped a rally in oil stocks. Inpex gained 1.55%, Nippon Oil edged up 0.20% and Showa Shell added 0.21%.
Among trading houses, Mitsubishi Corp. gained 3.52%, Sumitomo Corp. advanced 4.39% and Itochu soared 5.05%.
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