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Market Update

Nikkei Gains But Shanghai Falls

Japanese shares extended gains Thursday even as most bourses in the region remained closed for the Boxing Day holiday.

The Nikkei gained 1% while the Shanghai Composite fell 1.6%. The Hong Kong and Australian markets remained closed while the Sensex edged up 0.2%.

Earlier Thursday, data in Japan showed housing starts rose more-than-expected to a seasonally adjusted 14.1% in the last quarter, beating expectations for a 9.2% rise. Earlier Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in an interview that he would announce a new reform agenda in June which would include measures to bring more women to work.

China's state council said Wednesday the country's economic growth is likely to stand at 7.6% this year, down from 7.7% in 2012. Minister in charge of China’s National Development and Reform Commission Xu Shaoshi said, "We cannot deny a downward pressure on economic growth."

According to reports, traders said the People’s Bank of China did not inject any money into the banking system in regular open-market operations Thursday. It pumped in 29 billion yuan on Tuesday in seven-day reverse repurchase agreements.

Stocks on the Move

Toyota accelerated 2.9% while Mazda advanced 3.7%.

Toshiba and Sharp were up 1.9% each respectively while Hitachi gained 3.3%.

Banks were all lower in China with ICBC down 1.1% and AgBank and China Construction Bank Corp. down 1.6% and 1.5% each, respectively.

In resources, Jiangxi Copper melted 1.4% while Aluminum Corp. of China fell 2.6%.

Tata Power was the top gainer on the Sensex, up 4.1%, followed by ONGC, up 2.3%. HDFC Bank, Tata Steel, Wipro, BHEL, Axis Bank, and Airtel were all up in a range between 1.2% and 1.8%.

Index heavyweight RIL ended down 0.9%.

Maruti Suzuki edged down 0.2% after it said its Japanese parent Suzuki Motor has no immediate plans to raise its holding in the company but that such a possibility could not be ruled out.