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Market Update

Asian Markets Rise; Nikkei Up 2%

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

Tokyo's Nikkei soared 2%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged up 0.3%, Mumbai's Sensex added 0.8% while Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries climbed 0.7%.

The Shanghai Composite, however, failed to hold early gains and finished down 0.3%.

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 nearly 8% amid reports that said the firm's October-March operating profit is expected to come well above estimates.
Toyota Motor Corp. accelerated 5.8%, Panasonic Corp. gained 5.4% while Komatsu enhanced over 5%.

Power utitilities and financial stocks were among other robust gainers -- Tokyo Electric Power soared 13.1% while brokerage house Nomura Holdings added 8.3%.

Exporters in Hong Kong were also logged modest gains. 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 added 0.6% in Hong Kong while Agricultural Bank of China gained 0.9%% and Bank of Communications improved 1.2%.

Buyers also took positions in airline stocks. China Eastern Airlines vaulted 3.1%, Air China enhanced 2.4% 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 1.2% while Poly Property Group edged up 0.2%.

In Mumbai, auto stocks, banks and some IT players led the field.

Tata Motors topped the charts, racing ahead nearly 4% on the back of strong sales numbers in its luxury segment, JLR.

Infosys gained steam too ahead of its quarterly results on Friday, adding 3.7%.

Among banks, ICICI Bank rose 3.5%, HDFC Bank was up 1.1% and state-run SBI was up 1%.

Australia's Westpac Banking rose around 2% while NAB gained around 1.5% 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 nearly 1% amid profit booking.