RTTNews - The Japanese benchmark index Nikkei rose sharply on Friday and hit its highest intra-day levels since early October 2008 as stocks surged higher on better-than-expected earnings, a weaker yen and a bright close on Wall Street overnight. The Nikkei, which moved on to 10,313 this morning, is currently up by 140.5 points or 1.38% at 10,306.

On Thursday, shrugging off a setback it suffered after a positive start, the Japanese market rallied on positive data on industrial output and expectations of strong earnings from top notch corporate houses. The Nikkei, which remained choppy for a long time, ended the session at 10,165, up 51.97 points or 0.51% over Wednesday's close.

Construction, foods and chemicals stocks are mostly trading higher. Steel, non-ferrous metals and machinery stocks are also trading firm. Pharma stocks are trading mixed.

Among automobile stocks, Toyota Motor, Suzuki Motor, Honda Motor, Nissan Motor and Isuzu Motors are trading notably higher.

In the banking space, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Shizuoka Bank, Sumitomo Trust and Banking, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Fukuoka Financial and Chuo Mitsui Trust Holdings are trading firm.

Shares of Toyota Motor Corp. and Cannon Inc. moved up sharply on strong Wall Street cues and the yen's decline against the U.S. dollar. While the automobile giant is up nearly 4%, the electrical machinery stock is trading with a near 3% gain.

Shares of Olympus Corp. advanced on reports that the SLR camera maker likely saw a group net profit of around 2 billion yen in the April-June quarter. Although the figure makes for a 69% year-on-year drop, it would be an improvement from the 87.1 billion yen loss for the January-March period. The stock is up by about 3% now.

Sony Corp. and Sharp Corp. are up by 3% and 2%, respectively following the companies reporting smaller losses for the April-June quarter compared with the previous period. Sony's operating loss of 25.7 billion yen in the latest quarter was about 260 billion yen smaller than the January-March loss. Sharp's loss was reduced by about 64 billion yen, which was attributed to cuts in fixed costs as well as recovered sales of flat-panel televisions.

Despite a sharp 41% rise in group net profit, shares of Softbank Corp. declined after a positive start this morning with investors going in for some profit taking after recent gains.

In economic news, Japan's core consumer price index sank a record 1.7% year-on-year to 100.3 in June, declining for the fourth straight month, the Ministry of Internal Affairs said Friday. The core CPI for the Tokyo metropolitan area, considered a bellwether for nationwide price trends, also fell at its fastest pace in July, down 1.7% to 99.7.

According to a release from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Japan's unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points from the previous month to 5.4% in June, marking the fifth straight month of increase. The number of jobless rose for the eight consecutive month to 3.48 million, an increase of 830,000. The number of people who were forced to quit their jobs due to employers' circumstances increased by 62,000, while 40,000 fewer left their jobs on their own.

Meanwhile, the ratio of job offers to seekers fell 0.01 point from May to 0.43, the lowest level ever, according to the Labor Ministry.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded at the mid-95 yen level early Friday in Tokyo, little changed from its levels overnight in New York. The yen is currently trading at 95.34 to the U.S. dollar.

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