RTTNews - After opening on a buoyant note on strong cues from Wall Street, the Japanese stock market is drifting lower on Wednesday, with traders indulging in some selling at higher levels.

Iron & steel, non-ferrous metals and sea transport stocks rose sharply in early trading in Tokyo, while bank, technology and rubber products stocks drifted lower.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which opened higher by 45.60 points or 0.49% at 9,307.45, moved on to 9,333.64 before dropping to around 9,266. The index is currently trading at 9,298.18, up 36.37 points or 0.39% over its previous close.

Shares of steel major Nippon Steel Corp. gained in strength after the company said it will restart one of two blast furnaces that have been idle since February. The company plans to do this in August in order to meet increasing demand. The stock is currently trading nearly 3% up.

Asahi Glass Co. surged higher on a likely group operating profit of 2 billion-4 billion yen for the January-June period Previously, the company had said it likely broke even for the period. Increased demand for LCD TVs boosted revenue from LCD glass. Asahi Glass posted a profit of 109.5 billion yen for the first six months last year. The stock is up by over 3% this morning.

Shares of electronics major Panasonic Corp. rose sharply on reports the company will mass-produce a new type of battery for cars loaded with an idling-stop function. The company is reportedly aiming to make batteries for 1 million cars by fiscal 2015. However, after an early surge, the stock has drifted lower, paring most of the gains in the process. Currently, the stock is up just modestly over its previous closing price.

In another news, Aderans Holdings Co. has announced plans to slash annual costs by about 3 billion yen, by closing unprofitable stores and selling operations outside its mainstay wig business. The company will either close, downsize or integrate about 30 wig shops in Japan by the end of the year ending February 2011. It will also consider selling or liquidating non-wig operations as well integrating subsidiaries. The Aderans Holdings stock is trading nearly 2% up.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 93 yen level at 93.60-65 in early trading today, up slightly from its overnight levels in New York. The yen is currently trading at 93.46 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia is trading higher. The Korean market is up sharply, with its benchmark KOSPI moving up by nearly 2.25%, while the New Zealand market is trading flat. Stock markets across the region had ended Tuesday's session notably higher, with Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gaining 2.3% and 3.7% respectively.

Amid a spate of earnings reports and economic data, stocks moved in a choppy way on Wall Street on Tuesday. The major averages all finished in the green by moderate margins, extending their gains for a second straight session.

On the economic front, a report released by the Commerce Department revealed that retail sales increased by a little more than expected in the month of June, although the sales growth was due in large part to higher gasoline prices.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, producer prices rose 1.8% in June following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. Core producer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, climbed 0.5%.

The Dow closed up by 27.81 points or 0.3% at 8,359.49, the Nasdaq advanced by 6.52 points or 0.4% to 1,799.73 and the S&P 500 rose by 4.79 or 0.5% to 905.84

Major European markets also moved to the upside, with the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index finishing up by 1.3% and 1% respectively. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index also rose, posting a gain of 0.9% on the day.

Crude oil finished lower for the ninth time in ten sessions and below US$60 on Tuesday. Light sweet crude for August delivery fell to US$59.52 per barrel, down 17 cents on the session. Prices touched as high as US$61.46 earlier in the session, but later hit as low as US$59.15.

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