The stock market in Japan ended in positive territory on Thursday with a modest gain, having reversed most of the gains in early trading following the release of first quarter GDP numbers from China. Taking cue from Wall Street, where a late-day rally led by financials helped the major indices end in positive territory after the Federal Reserve signaled that that the contraction in the economy is slowing down, the market opened strongly and crossed the 9,000-mark during the session. However, the market could not sustain the momentum after a government report revealed that the Chinese economy expanded at a slower pace of 6.1% during the first quarter.
On Wednesday, the Nasdaq ended the session up 1.08 points or 0.1% at 1,627, while the Dow jumped 109.44 points or 1.4% to 8,030 and the S&P 500 closed up 10.56 points or 1.3% at 852.
In Asian trading, crude oil ended at $49.90 a barrel, up $0.65 in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery closed down $0.16 at $49.25 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday after an Energy Information Administration data revealed commercial crude oil inventories increased for a 25th time in 29 weeks by 5.6 million barrels to 366.7 million barrels in the week ended April 10, 2009.
In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index added 12.30 points, or 0.14%, to close at 8,755, while the broader Topix Index of all First Section Issues slipped 0.38% or 3.21 points to close at 832.
On the economic front, Japan's Ministry of Finance reported Thursday that overseas residents purchased a net 114.5 billion yen in Japan stocks for the week of April 5 through 11, their second straight week as net purchasers. However, foreigners dumped a net 169.3 billion yen in Japanese bonds and notes for the week, after having been net buyers the week before. Meanwhile, Japanese residents remained net buyers of foreign-based stocks, purchasing a net 7.9 billion yen worth. They also acquired a net 818.3 billion yen in foreign bonds and notes, after having been sellers of a revised net 2.113 trillion yen worth in the previous week.
Banking stocks declined the most, limiting the gains in the indices. Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan's biggest bank, lost 3.07%, Sumitomo Mitsui declined 1.84% and Resona Holdings edged down 0.08%. Brokerage Nomura Holdings fell 2.51%. However, Mizuho Financial ended unchanged from the previous close.
Among exporters, Canon lost 1.49%, and Sharp slipped 0.77%. However, Sony Corp. remained unchanged. Automaker Toyota declined 2.37% and Honda Motor slipped 0.92%.
Oil-related stocks ended mixed. While Inpex declined 2.35%, Nippon Oil gained 0.77% and Showa Shell advanced 1.56%. Trading house Mitsubishi Corp. gained 1.43%, Sumitomo Corp. edged up 0.11% and Itochu added 0.35%.
Drug maker Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.'s consolidated operating profit for the year ended March 31, 2009 is expected to have fallen 31%, which is an improvement over earlier projections, the Nikkei business daily said. The company's shares edged up 0.28%.
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