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Market Update

Tokyo Leads Asia Up

Asian markets ended higher Thursday with Japanese markets leading gains for the region.

The Nikkei was up 1.6%. The Shanghai Composite edged up 0.3% while the Hang Seng was up half a percent. The Sensex gained 1.1% while the All Ordinaries ended flat.

The Australian dollar gained as data showed retail sales in the country rose 1.2% in January while trade surplus more than doubled on the back of a solid 4% increase in exports.

The mood was downbeat in Shanghai on reports of China's first high-profile bond default seen as almost certain to happen Friday, sending the Chinese bond market lower.

Stocks on the Move

Among the major gainers in Tokyo, index heavyweight Sony was up 2.4% while Toshiba Corp. rose 2%.

Fanuc was up about a percent while Softbank surged nearly 5%. Bloomberg reported citing Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hoettges that regulatory problems could put an end on the sale of T-Mobile US to Softbank's newly brought Sprint unit.

Fuji Heavy Industries lifted 3.7%.

Toyota and Honda were both up around 1.8% each. Local media reports said Toyota plans to increase workers’ wages by a more modest amount than the 400 yen a month that unions were asking for.

In Hong Kong, China Renewable Energy surged over 25% after saying it expects to swing to a profit this financial year.

But Standard Chartered was down 1.5% after it reported earnings that missed expectations. HSBC edged up 0.1%.

Fast Retailing rose 1.7% after ending its debut more than 5% higher on its first trading day yesterday.

In Mumbai, the top gainer was Hindalco Industries, up 4.3%, followed by BHEL up 3.8%, ICICI Bank up 3.3%, ONGC up 2.9% and Tata Steel up 2.4%.

The retail data was mildly positive for the sector’s stocks in Sydney. David Jones picked up 0.3% while Myer Holdings advanced 1.5%. Wesfarmers traded 0.6% lower while Woolworths was flat.

Index leader BHP Billiton slipped 0.4% while Fortescue Metals rose 2.3%. Rio Tinto edged 0.4% lower.

BlueScope Steel reversed losses and edged up 0.4%. The company received the regulatory nod to buy OneSteel’s assets.