RTTNews - A strong close on Wall Street last Friday and some encouraging economic data from the home front lifted triggered hectic buying in the Japanese market on Monday. The resultant rise in stock prices lifted the benchmark index Nikkei past the 10,500 mark for the first time in ten months.

The Japanese benchmark index Nikkei opened on a bright note and sped past the 10,500 mark for the first time in ten months as a strong close on Wall Street and some encouraging economic data from the home front triggered hectic buying across the board.

As stocks across various sectors moved higher, the Nikkei shot up to 10,585, gaining nearly 175 points this morning. The index is currently trading at 10,552, up 139.4 points or 1.34% over its previous close. The Nikkei had ended at 10,412 on Friday, recording a gain of 24 points or 0.2%.

Steel stocks JFE Holdings, Pacific Metals, Nippon Steel, Sumitomo Metal and Kobe Steel are trading higher by 1% - 3%. Non-ferrous metals SUMCO, Sumitomo Metal Mining, Toyo Seikan Kaisha, Sumitomo Electric Industries, Mitsubishi Materials and Furukawa are trading firm.

Automobile stocks Toyota Motor, Honda Motor, Suzuki Mazda Motor and Isuzu Motors are up by 2% - 3%.

In the banking space, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Bank of Yokohama, Resona Holdings, Shizuoka Bank and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Chuo Mitsui Trust Holdings and Shinsei Bank are trading notably higher this morning.

Mitsubishi Rayon is up nearly 3% on reports that Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp., Japan's largest chemical maker, plans to acquire Mitsubishi Rayon via a tender offer. On hopes the deal will take place at a premium, investors are seen lapping up Mitsubishi Rayon stocks this morning. The
Mitsubishi Chemical stock is trading modestly higher.

Construction and real estate stocks are mostly trading firm. Foods stocks are trading mixed. Chemicals and textiles are trading higher.

According to a report from the government, Japanese core machinery orders rose 9.7% in June from the previous month, raising hopes that firms may have finished paring down their business investment plans. The rise was much bigger than the 2.9% increase expected on average by economists. It comes after orders fell 3.0% in May and 5.4% in April. The Cabinet Office data also showed core machinery orders fell 29.7% from a year earlier in June. In the April-June period, core orders dropped 4.9% from the previous quarter.

In another news, Japan's current account surplus rose 144.4% from a year earlier in June, data from the Finance Ministry showed Monday, marking the first increase in 16 months and boding well for the nation's export-reliant economy. The surplus in the current account, the broadest measure of Japan's trade with the rest of the world, stood at Y1.153 trillion in June before seasonal adjustment, the data showed.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded at the lower 97 yen level early Monday in Tokyo after hitting a two-month high in the upper 97 yen level in New York on Friday following the release of the U.S. job data. In early trading this morning, the dollar fetched 97.32-37 yen against Friday's close of 97.47-57 yen in New York and 95.38-39 yen in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 97.18 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia and Shanghai are trading sharply higher. New Zealand, Korea and Taiwan are also trading firm. Stock markets across the region had turned in a mixed performance last Friday.

On Wall Street, buoyed by encouraging economic data, stocks rallied sharply and ended on a firm note last Friday. Buying interest in stocks was sparked by a Labor Department report showing that the pace of job losses slowed by even more than economists had been anticipating in the month of July.

The report showed that non-farm payroll employment fell by 247,000 jobs in July following a revised decrease of 443,000 jobs in June. Economists had been expecting employment to fall by 325,000 jobs compared to the drop of 467,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month. The Labor Department also said that the unemployment rate unexpectedly edged down to 9.4% in July from 9.5%, recording a decrease for the first time since April 2008.

The Dow closed up by 113.81 points or 1.2% at 9,370, the Nasdaq moved up by 27.09 points or 1.4% to 2,000, and the S&P 500 ended up 13.4 points or 1.3% at 1,011.

Major European markets closed notably higher, with the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index posting gains of 1.3% and 1.7% respectively, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index rose by 0.9%.

Oil prices turned notably lower on Friday after giving back an early rally amid lingering demand worries. A stronger U.S. dollar also lowered the hedge appeal of commodities. Light sweet crude for September dropped to US$70.93 per barrel, down US$1.01 per barrel. Prices rose as high as US$72.84 before later touching as low as US$70.38.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com