The stock market in Japan opened on a weak note this morning but has rebounded into positive zone now on some strong buying at lower levels.

The Nikkie 225, which fell to 8,760 after opening at 8,832, is now up with a small gain of 5.30 points at 8,842.

Automotive stocks Honda Motor, Suzuki Motor, Nissan and Fuji Heavy Industries are down with sharp losses while Toyota Motor Corp and Hi no Motors are up in positive territory.

Bank, insurance and real estate stocks are trading mixed. Leading financial stock Muzo Financial opened higher despite an earnings downgrade. Shipbuilders Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitzi Engineering & Shipbuilding are trading weak. Shares of trading companies, transport and power firms are also down in the red. Utility stocks Osaka Gas and Tokyo Gas are up with sharp gains.

Construction stocks are trading weak today. Among food companies, Japan Tobacco is down sharply after a positive start. Meiji Holdings, Noshing Seizin Group and Animator are trading higher. Jackman Corp, Karin Holdings and Tamara Holding are down with sharp losses.

Chemicals and health care stocks are trading mixed. Steel products are exhibiting weakness. Among oil and coal stocks, Shows Shell, Skye and Nippon Oil Corp are trading higher while Nippon Mining is down in the red.

The Yen is trading at 97.75 to the U.S. dollar, down 0.22 from its previous close.

Among the other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia Korea and Singapore are trading weak. The Chinese market are up moderately.

The Japanese government decided on Thursday to downgrade the real economic growth forecast for fiscal 2009 from zero to minus 3.3%, an all-time low. The government has projected a negative figure for the first time since fiscal 2001 and the revised figure is expected to be announced on Monday. The Japanese government has said that the latest economic stimulus package will likely boost Japan's economic growth by about 2 percentage points to a level on a par with other industrialized nations. So its new economic outlook would be in line with this estimate.

After some early struggle, the Japanese stock market closed on a firm note on Thursday on expectations the economy would soon be on a growth path. The International Monetary Fund expects the Japanese economy to start growing again later this year on the strength of a recently approved record 15.4 trillion yen fiscal stimulus, a senior IMF official said Wednesday. The remarks came after the IMF said in its biannual World Economic Outlook report unveiled earlier in the day that Japan's economy will shrink 6.2 percent in 2009. The report forecast Japan's 2010 growth to recover to 0.5 percent.

Most of the markets in the Asia-Pacific region had closed on a firm note after some initial weakness on Thursday. The Australian benchmark was among the ones to have traded firm right through the session.

On Thursday, U.S. stocks were seen struggling for support for a major part of the session on Wall Street due to weak economic reports and mixed corporate news. After moving in a listless manner for a considerable length of time, stocks managed to edge higher during the last few minutes with financials leading the charge ahead of the Treasury's announcement regarding measures for bank stress tests. The Dow ended 71 points up at 7957. The Nasdaq closed 6 points up and S&P 500 advanced nearly a per cent or 8 points.

Crude oil moved higher again on Thursday in U.S. trading and challenged the key $50 per barrel mark. A weaker dollar outweighed discouraging economic news and another rise in weekly inventories. Light sweet crude oil for June delivery finished at $49.62, up 77 cents on the session. Prices rallied as high as $49.92 in the early-going.

In economic news, weekly job claims rose and the figure was in-line with expectations. Jobless claims rose to 640,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 613,000. Continuing claims climbed to a record high of 6.14 million.

Existing home sales for March fell 3.0% month-over-month to an annualized rate of 4.57 million. Annualized home sales for March were expected to total 4.65 million units. At the current sales pace, the supply of unsold homes increased to 9.8 months from 9.7 months.

On the corporate front, Apple reported net income for the second quarter of $1.33 per share, compared to $1.16 per share for the year-ago quarter. UPS reported adjusted first quarter earnings of $0.52 per share, down from $0.87 per share last year and $0.04 below analyst estimates.

After the U.S. markets closed Thursday, Microsoft said its third quarter profit fell 32% from last year, hurt by weakness in the global PC market as well as $710 million in charges related to job cuts and investment write-downs. The world's largest software company reported net income for the third quarter of $2.98 billion or $0.33 per share, compared to $4.39 billion or $0.47 per share for the year-ago quarter.

Online retailer, Inc. said Thursday after the markets closed that its first quarter earnings rose 24% from last year, on better than expected sales from the Kindle electronic bookreader introduced during the spring season. The company reported net income for the first quarter of $177 million or $0.41 per share, compared to $143 million or $0.34 per share for the year-ago quarter.

In other news, President Obama said he would push for a law to provide strong and reliable protections for the millions of Americans who have credit cards after meeting with chief executives of the credit-card lending industry. Obama said he wants legislation that will prevent consumers from facing a sudden, surprising rise in fees, and that companies must make it easier for people to do comparison shopping.

Additionally, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo unveiled information Thursday, showing that the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department put significant pressure on Bank of America (BAC) to go through with its merger with Merrill Lynch.

Ford Motor and Xerox Corp will announce results on Friday. In economic news, durables goods orders data and new home sales data will be released.

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