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March 30, 2011    

Asian markets see gains on production restart news from Japan

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by Elaine Frei
Asian markets see gains on production restart news from Japan

Asian equities markets were higher Wednesday after some Japanese companies that had to shut down production after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami made announcements that they were either already at least partially back in production or will be soon, and after Japan’s Trade Ministry reported new data showing that production was up there in February, before the earthquake..

The Nikkei 225 was up 2.64 percent to 9,708.79, while the Topix index added 1.87 percent to 866.09 and the Mothers market gained 0.87 percent to 449.33.

Heavy machinery manufacturer IHI Corp (TYO: 7013) saw gains it resumed some production at two factories in Fukushima prefecture, while Hitachi (TYO: 6501) said it will restart production at its main factory next month and Nissan Motors (TYO: 7201) announced that it expects operations to be back to normal by late June.

Carmakers, heavy equipment manufacturers and the electronics sector saw gains.

Elsewhere in the region, the Taiex was up 0.58 percent to 8,646.31 in Taiwan, while India’s Sensex added 0.89 percent to 19,290.2, the Kospi was 0.93 percent higher to 2,091.38 in South Korea, the Straits Times Index gained 1.26 percent to 3,095.32, Australia’s markets were higher as the Sydney Ordinaries added 1.27 percent to 4,912.7 and the S&P/ASX200 was up 1.4 percent to 4,822.2 and the Hang Seng gained 1.7 percent to 23,451.4.

Going against trends, the Shanghai Composite dropped 0.08 percent to 2,955.77.

Most European markets were higher on the session, although there were still concerns about debt problems in the region.

The FTSE 100 added 0.19 percent to 5,943.34 in London, while the FTSE 250 was up 0.31 percent to 11,672.6, with retailers leading declines on both indexes on a sales warning in the sector, while miners were mixed despite positive comment and raised recommendations from several brokers, and most utilities and most in the energy sector were higher.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.74 percent to 1,134.29, while the CAC-40 added 0.83 percent to 4,021 and the Dax gained 1.68 percent, but the IBEX dropped 0.03 percent to 10,732.3.

There were just five decliners on the CAC-40 and no decliners at all on the Dax, where carmakers were among the best performers.

At just past 1 p.m. in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.82 percent to 12,379.8, while at the same time the S&P 500 had added 0.89 percent to 1,331.15 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.78 percent higher to 2,778.29, with gains helped by a report showing that the US private sector added 201,000 jobs during the month, just slightly below expectations, while planned layoffs were down.

Crude oil prices were slightly higher in midday trade and precious metals were up, but copper dropped 7 cents per pound.

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