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Market Update

Asian Stocks Mirror Wall Street Gains; Data Supports

Asian markets extended gains Wednesday after yet another record close for U.S. stocks the prior day and upbeat Chinese trade data inspired investors to take on more riskier assets.

Leading the way, Japan's Nikkei notched up 1.3% at 11:45 a.m. local time. The Shanghai Composite moved up 0.3% while the Hang Seng gained 0.6%. Mumbai's Sensex opened 0.3% higher while Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries rose 0.8% at the time of writing.

Looking at Wall Street's performance overnight, U.S. stocks hit a fresh record as the DJIA finished above the 15,000 level for the first time ever on the back of strong overseas cues. The Nasdaq Composite, meanwhile, also logged its highest finish since November 2000 while the S&P 500 index ended at another record high on Tuesday.

Back home, some positive data points from China added to the confidence. Chinese export and import growth accelerated in April with exports rising a better-than-expected 14.7% from a year ago and imports improving a more-than-estimated 16.8% from a year earlier -- leaving China with a surplus of $18.2 billion as of April as against a slight deficit recorded in the previous month.

Stocks on the move

Tokyo-listed exporters continued their upclimb with signs of economic recovery in two of the country's largest export markets -- U.S. and China.

Sharp Corp. jumped nearly 8% to a 10-month high amid reports the company would produce screens for the new model of Apple Inc.'s iPhone 5.

Softbank Corp. rose around 4% amid reports the company's president would meet major shareholders of Sprint Nextel Corp. in a bid to garner support for the company's proposed takeover of the U.S. wireless service provider.

Among other movers, Tokyo Electron Ltd. vaulted more than 9%, Sumco Corp. gained 5.5% while Sony Corp. improved 3%.

But Toshiba Corp. tumbled over 4% after a Nikkei report said the company would miss its operating profit forecast for the fiscal year ended March.

In Hong Kong, index heavyweight HSBC Holdings rose 1.5% after reporting strong quarterly earnings. Other financials were also in the green. ICBC added 0.5%, Agricultural Bank improved around a percent while Bank of Communications was up 0.7%.

Among other gainers, PetroChina Co. rose nearly 2%, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. enhanced 2.4% while CNOOC added 1.4%.

Metal players also supported with modest gains. Angang Steel picked up 1.7% while Aluminum Corp. of China tacked on a percent.

On the flipside, however, fashion clothing retailer Esprit Holdings plunged more than 5.5% after it warned of significant losses in the second-half on account of escalating costs related to store closures and acquistions in China.

In Mumbai, stocks moved upwards, tracking positive cues from global markets. Top gainers included Tata Motors (+2%), ONGC (+1.8%), Jindal Steel (+1.3%) and Sterlite Industries (+1.2%).

HDFC was up around 2% ahead of its earnings report while Lupin, which is also due to report results today, added 2.2%.

In Sydney, miners and financial issues were playing strong. Top miner BHP Billiton was up 1.6% while Rio Tinto added 2.2%. Diversified miner Fortescue Metals Group bounced over 5%.

Among banking firms, NAB improved around a percent while ANZ gained close to 2%. Westpac Banking Corp. was trading 0.5% higher.