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Market Update

Asian Stocks Extend Gains

Asian markets scored higher Thursday boosted by some positive news in the region and after Wall Street equities logged yet another strong performance overnight.

Japan's Nikkei bounced 0.8% at 11:45 a.m. Tokyo time. The Hang Seng was up 0.8% too and so was Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries. The Sensex opened 0.9% up while the Shanghai Composite edged up 0.1%.

In regional news, governor Haruhiko Kuroda of the Bank of Japan said the central bank would take "all necessary measures" to meet the inflation target of 2%, spurring hopes of further stimulus measures.

The yen dropped to 99.57 against the dollar on heels of the announcement.

Meanwhile, data released today showed Chinese lending increased more than expected during March --Chinese banks and financials lent out 1.06 trillion yuan in March as compared with 620 billion in new yuan-denominated loans the previous month.

In other news, Australia's unemployment rate climbed to its highest level in more than three years during March. The unemployment rate rose to a higher-than-expected seasonally adjusted 5.6% in March from 5.4% in February. But stocks in Sydney shrugged off the disappointing news and continued to tread upwards.

Stocks on the move

Exporters in Tokyo continued to ride higher with the yen hovering around the 100-mark against the dollar. A weaker currency favours Japanese exporters by lowering prices of their goods in export markets and also by boosting earnings when repatriated into yen.

Among the top scorers, Sharp Corp. bounced 8.7% amid reports that said the firm's October-March operating profit is expected to come well above estimates.

Toyota Motor Corp. accelerated 5.3%, Panasonic Corp. gained 4.9% while Komatsu enhanced over 4%.

Power utitilities and financial stocks were among other robust gainers -- Tokyo Electric Power soared 10.6% while brokerage house Nomura Holdings added 3.7%.

Exporters in Hong Kong were also trading modestly higher. Esprit Holdings, Li& Fung Ltd, and Foxconn International Holdings were up around 1% to 1.5%.

Banks notched higher on the back of positive loan data. The country's largest lender ICBC tacked on a percent in Hong Kong while Agricultural Bank of China jumped 2% and Bank of Communications improved 2.4%.

Airline stocks found solid support too. China Eastern Airlines vaulted 4.4%, Air China enhanced 2.7% while Cathay Pacific Airways added around 1%.

Property plays and some metal-linked players were also on the upside -- Angang Steel added 4.3% while Aluminum Corp. of China gained over 3%.

China Resources Land rose 1.4% while Poly Property Group added over 1%.

In Mumbai, auto stocks, private lenders and IT players led the field.

Tata Motors topped the charts, racing ahead nearly 5% on the back of strong sales numbers in its luxury segment, JLR.

Infosys gained steam too ahead of its quarterly results on Friday, adding 1.4%. Wipro added 1% while TCS was up 0.7%.

Among banks, ICICI Bank rose 2.3%, HDFC Bank was up 1.2% but state-run SBI slipped 0.2%.

Australia's Westpac Banking rose over 1.5% while NAB gained around a percent even as ANZ edged up 0.2%.

But miners lagged -- mining giant BHP Billiton and close rival Rio Tinto were down around 0.5% each while gold miner Newcrest Mining dropped over 1% amid profit booking.