RTTNews - The Japanese stock market slipped into the red after opening marginally higher as investors resorted to some selling amid lack of trading cues. However, the market has significantly trimmed its earlier losses on modest buying at lower levels.

The benchmark Nikkei index, which declined sharply to 9,232 after an initial surge to 9,380, is currently trading at 9,267, down 80.06 points from its previous close. The Nikkei had ended higher by 121.19 points at 9,347 on Monday.

Exporters have gained as the yen weakened against the U.S. dollar. Machinery, steel and non-ferrous metal stocks are trading reasonably firm. Insurance, real estate and communications stocks are also trading higher. Automobile and bank stocks are also seen mostly trading higher.

Investors appear to be betting on hopes the worst of recession may soon be over after the Japanese government raised its assessment of the domestic economy for the first time in more than three years

According to a report from the Finance Ministry, the balance of Japan's net external assets amounted to 225.51 trillion yen as of the end of 2008, down 9.9 percent from a year earlier, affected largely by the strengthening yen. It is the first time in three years that the balance has shrunk, but the level was still the second highest on record, following an all-time high of 250.22 trillion yen at the end of 2007, the ministry said.

Although the shrinkage was the largest since 1999, Japan has still managed to keep its position as the No. 1 net external asset holding country in the world for the 18th straight year if its balance is compared to the latest figures from other countries provided by the International Monetary Fund.

In the currency market, the Yen is trading at 94.69 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia has recovered after a weak start. Shanghai, Hong Kong, Korea and New Zealand are trading weak. The Taiwan market is up sharply, with its benchmark index Taiwan Weighted moving up by 1.4%.

North Korea's nuclear test had sent stock prices tumbling in most of the Asian markets on Monday. However, almost all of them rebounded in late trade and significantly trimmed down their losses.

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