TOKYO (dpa-AFX) - The Japanese stock market opened on a positive note on Wednesday, with the greenback's rise against the yen triggering some strong buying at several counters.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index hit a seven-month high, rising to 15,812.4 in early trades. The index is currently up 117.7 points or 0.8 percent at 15,786.3.
Yokogawa Electric, up nearly 11 percent, is the top gainer in the Nikkei index. Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha and Minebea Co. are up more than 5 percent.
Heiwa Real Estate, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Pioneer Corp., MEIJI Holdings, Fast Retailing, Isuzu Motors, Fuji Heavy Industries, Okuma Corp., Sumitomo Metal Mining, Sony Corp., Sumco Corp. and Olympus Corp. are moving up 2.5 to 5 percent.
Nippon Yusen KK, GS Yuasa Corp., Taiheiyo Cement, Panasonic Corp. (PC), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mazda Motor, Suzuki Motor, Nikon Corp., Nomura Holdings, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. (SMFG) and Daiwa Securities Group are all rising 1.5 to 2.5 percent.
Meanwhile, Alps Electric and Unitika are declining 3 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively. Dainippon Screen Manufacturing, J Front Retailing, Takashimaya, TDK Corp., JX Holdings, Japan Steel Works, Nisshinbo Holdings Inc. and Fujitsu are lower by 1 to 2 percent.
On the economic front, the services sector in Japan contracted in August, with the purchasing managers' index coming in with a score of 49.9, the latest survey from Markit Economics revealed. That was down from 50.4 in July.
Among the individual components of the survey, new business growth and payroll numbers remained in expansionary territory. Markit's composite PMI climbed to 50.8 from 50.2 in the previous month.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 105 yen level in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 105.20 to the dollar, against Tuesday's close of 104.85 yen per dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong and Shanghai are notably higher. Australia, Singapore, New Zealand and Taiwan are up marginally, while Malaysia and South Korea are trading weak.
On Wall Street, stocks ended mixed on Tuesday, after showing a lack of direction throughout the session despite some upbeat economic data including a report from the Institute for Supply Management that showed a brisk pace of growth in U.S. manufacturing activity.
The major averages finished the session on opposite sides of the unchanged line. While the Nasdaq climbed 17.9 points or 0.4 percent to 4,598.2, the Dow dipped 30.9 points or 0.2 percent to 17,067.6 and the S&P 500 edged down 1.1 points or 0.1 percent to 2,002.3.
Major European markets too ended mixed on Tuesday. While the French CAC 40 index closed just below the unchanged line, the U.K.'sFTSE 100 index inched up by 0.1 percent and the German DAX index closed up 0.3 percent.
U.S. crude oil snapped a four-day gain to end sharply lower on Tuesday, on concerns over demand growth prospects as the dollar strengthened against some major currencies with some weak Chinese factory data outweighing persistent worries about the situation Ukraine.
Crude oil futures for October delivery ended down $3.08 or 3.2 percent at $92.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.