RTTNews - Sentiment among big Japanese manufacturers bounced back from a historical low on a pickup in exports and production, the first improvement in sentiment in two and a half years, the Bank of Japan's June tankan survey for June showed Wednesday. The headline diffusion index for large manufacturers rose to minus 48 in June from a record low of minus 58 posted in March, the BOJ's quarterly survey of corporate sentiment showed.

Still, the data was not good enough to lift sentiment any significantly in early trading in Tokyo where stock prices fell sharply following overnight negative close on Wall Street. However, with traders picking up stocks at lower levels, the market rebounded into positive territory in late morning trade.

The Nikkei, which opened 0.7% down at 9,889 and slid further to 9,874 in early trades, is currently up with a modest gain of around 26 points points or 0.27% at 9984.

While retail, textiles and glass & ceramics stocks edged higher in early trading, stocks of consumer finance, mining and transport firms declined. Exporters slipped due to the decline in U.S. consumer confidence. Shares of Toyota Motor and Sony Corp. were among the prominent losers in opening trades this morning.

Machinery and electric machinery stocks are mostly trading lower. In the banking space, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Sumitomo Trust and Banking are up in positive territory, while Fukuoka Financial, Shizuoka Bank, Chiba Bank, Resona Holdings and Chuo Mitsui Trust Holdings are trading sharply lower.

Insurance stocks Mitsui Sumitomo, Sompo Japan Insurance, T&D Holdings and Tokio Marine Holdings are down with notable losses. Real estate and communications stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend.

All Nippon Airways Co. has stated that it has no intention to raise funds but will make an announcement as soon as possible if something comes up that needs to be notified. Earlier, according to some reports, the airliner was said to be planning to raise around 150 billion yen in one of its biggest-ever public offerings of stock. The stock is currently trading lower by as much as 6.5%.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar stayed in the lower 96-yen zone early Wednesday in Tokyo, almost unchanged from its late Tuesday quotes in New York. The yen is currently trading at 96.84 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Korea and Taiwan are trading higher. Australia, New Zealand and Singapore are trading in negative territory.

Despite a slightly positive start, Wall Street ended lower Tuesday as fears of a prolonged recession and job losses dented consumer confidence and rendered the mood bearish. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence index fell to 49.3 points in June from a revised 54.8 in May.

The Dow ended down by 82.38 points or 1% at 8,447, the Nasdaq dipped by 9.02 points or 0.5% to 1,835, and the S&P 500 fell 7.91 points or 0.9% to 919.

Stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region ended Tuesday's session on a mixed note. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed up by 1.8%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slid 0.8%.

Major European markets closed firmly on the downside, with the German DAX Index and French CAC 40 Index finishing down by 1.6% and 1.7%, respectively. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index also fell, showing a decrease of 1%.

Oil prices sank from eight-month peaks today after new data signaled a plunge in consumer confidence in the U.S., the world's largest energy consumer. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, tumbled US$1.60 from yesterday's closing price to US$69.89 per barrel, after earlier touching US$73.38 - a level unseen since October.

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