Japanese stocks surged out the open, with the Nikkei Average up 1.8% in the early minutes as surprisingly strong industrial data and sizeable drop in the yen buoyed the market in its return from a one-day holiday. The broader Topix enjoyed a similar 1.7% advance. With the dollar changing hands for �120.21, well up from �118.69 when Tokyo stocks closed on Tuesday, the more globally exposed names rallied, including Panasonic Corp. (up 3.2%), Konica Minolta Inc. (up 3.4%), Fanuc Corp. (up 3.2%), Toyota Motor Corp. (up 2.1%) and Nissan Motor Co. (up. 2.8%). Shares of Sony Corp. zoomed 3.3% higher following news during the holiday of a deal with the Walt Disney Co. to make a new Spider-Man film. Also supporing some of the industrials were data out just ahead of the open showing machinery orders, excluding ships and power equipment, soared 8.3% higher in December. That result was more than triple what economists expected, though the number tends to be volatile. Meanwhile, Canon Inc. underperformed the benchmark slightly but still rose 1.5% following news it plans to buy Sweden's video-network company Axis AB for about $2.8 billion. Shares of Softbank Corp. lost 1.6% after posting a drop in profit due to weakness in its listed U.S. unit Sprint Corp. , while a fiscal-year loss from Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. sent its stock tumbling 6.1%.
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