RTTNews - Taking cues from Wall Street where stocks had moved up sharply last Friday on renewed optimism about the economy, the Japanese market opened on a bright note on Monday with stocks across the board attracting attention. A weaker yen is also contributing to the rally.

The Japanese benchmark index Nikkei, which opened over 160 points up at 10,390 this morning and rose to 10,580 subsequently, is currently trading at 10,553, up 315.2 points or 3.08% over its previous close. The Nikkei had ended with a loss of 145.2 points or 1.4% at 10,238 last Friday.

Key bank and automobile stocks are mostly trading higher. In the automobile space, Honda Motor is up by over 3% on reports that the automaker will roll out electric vehicles in the U.S. Among other stocks in the automobile sector, Suzuki Motor, Hino Motors, Mazda Motor and Nissan Motor are trading up by 2% - 4%. Isuzu Motors is trading higher by around 5%,while Mitsubishi Motors is trading higher by about 1.5%.

Among bank stocks, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Resona Holdings, Bank of Yokohama, Chuo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Shinsei Bank are all trading firm.

Construction, foods and textiles stocks are mostly trading firm. Chemicals, pharmaceuticals, steel and non-ferrous metals are also trading notably higher.

Matsumotokiyoshi Holdings hit a new year-to-date high earlier this morning and is currently trading with a 4.4% gain on reports that the drugstore operator and Lawson Inc. will open a new type of outlet that combines elements of drugstores and convenience stores. Matsumotokiyoshi and Lawson are also likely to supply each other's existing stores with such products as medicine and food. The Lawson Inc. stock is up by about 2%.

Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. moved higher on reports the company will sell a version of the Tamiflu flu medication tailored to the Japanese market and produced domestically. The new version will come in powdered form and be more moisture-resistant so as to better withstand Japan's heavy summer humidity. Buying was also fueled by speculation that demand for Tamiflu will expand in response to the recent spread of the flu.

In the currency market, the yen is currently trading at 94.70 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia is up sharply with its key indices S&P/ASX 200 and the All Ordinaries moving up by about 2.3% each. New Zealand, Korea and Singapore are also trading with impressive gains. Stock markets across the region had turned in a mixed performance on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks saw a notably strong outing on Friday, with early buying interest spearheaded by better than expected existing home sales data and relatively optimistic economic commentary from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

The Dow closed up by 155.91 points or 1.7% at 9,506 the Nasdaq climbed by 31.68 points or 1.6% to 2,021and the S&P 500 moved up by 18.76 points or 1.9% to 1,026.

Major European markets all closed substantially higher on Friday, with the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index rising by 3.2% and 2.9% respectively, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index finished up by 2%.

Crude oil prices surged on Friday on hopes of increased energy demand. After ending Thursday's trading down US$0.92 at US$72.91 a barrel, crude for October delivery ended its first day as the front-month contract up US$0.98 at US$73.89 a barrel. The price of oil rose as high as US$74.72 a barrel before giving back some ground.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com