RTTNews - The Japanese stock market opened with a strong positive gap on Thursday as stocks across the board rose sharply following the overnight surge on Wall Street and on the back of a stronger dollar. Non-ferrous metals, banking and auto stocks are among the among the top gainers in morning trades.

The benchmark index Nikkei 225 rose to 9,489.67 after opening at 9,394 and is currently trading at 9,466, up nearly 197 points or 2.13% over its previous close.

On Wednesday, the Nikkei index had ended with a small gain of 7.44 points at 9,269.25 amid a mixed trend.

Non-ferrous metals stocks Sumitomo Metal Mining, Toyo Seikan Kaisha, SUMCO, Toho Zinc, Furukawa Electric, DOWA Holdings, Mitsubishi Materials, Mitsui Mining and Furukawa are all trading sharply higher.

Shares of automobile majors Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. moved higher this morning on reports that the two firms are planning to team up on hybrid operations. While Toyota Motor is trading nearly 3% up, Mazda Motor is currently trading up by as much as 8.5%.

Among other stocks in the automobile space, Honda Motor, Suzuki Motor, Nissan Motor and Hino Motors are currently trading higher by 2%-5%.

Among bank stocks, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Resona Holdings, Sumitomo Trust and Banking, Shizuoka Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Mizuho Financial, Chuo Mitsui Trust Holdings and Chiba Bank are up by 1.5%-4% this morning.

Shares of trading firms Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsui & Co., Toyota Tsusho, Marubeni Corp. and Sojitz are up by 4%-7% on heavy buying.

Machinery and electric machinery stocks are trading sharply higher. Retail, insurance, communications and transport stocks are also mostly trading higher this morning. In addition, pharmaceuticals, construction, foods and chemicals sectors are seeing heavy buying today.

Shares of Komatsu Ltd. moved up sharply on hopes for a recovery in construction machinery sales following reassuring economic readings from China and the U.S. The stock is up by over 4% now. According to reports, China's economy expanded 7.9% year-on-year for the April-June quarter, better than an earlier prediction of a 7.7% increase.

In the currency market, the dollar firmed up against the yen on gains posted by U.S. and European stock markets. In early trading on Thursday, the dollar fetched 94.23-28 yen compared with Wednesday's close of 93.46-47 yen in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 94.32 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, Singapore and Taiwan are trading sharply higher with their key indices gaining 1.5%-2%. The New Zealand and Korean markets are also up in positive territory with notable gains. Stock markets across the region had extended their gains on Wednesday on recovery hopes.

Besides better-than expected results from Intel Corp. and Yum! Brands, the Federal Reserve's announcement that it expects a less severe economic contraction in 2009 and a moderately stronger recovery in 2010 proved strong enough triggers for traders to stay bullish during the session.

The Dow closed up by 256.72 points or 3.1% at 8,616.21, the Nasdaq climbed 63.17 points or 3.5% to 1,862.90, and the S&P 500 rose 26.84 points or 3% to 932.68.

Major European markets closed on the upside for the third session in a row, with the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index closing up by 3.1% and 2.9% respectively. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index also moved higher, climbing by 2.6%.

Crude oil rose above US$61 per barrel on Wednesday, boosted by a larger-than-expected decline in crude oil inventories last week. Violence in Nigeria and a weaker dollar also lifted prices. Light sweet crude for August delivery posted its best close in a week at US$61.54 per barrel, up US$2.02 for the day. Oil briefly touched as high as US$62.

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