Strong gain for Nikkei index

<p>The Nikkei and other Asian markets are up today.</p>

Asian markets including the Nikkei stock market were up today (December 18th) halfway through the week.

The Nikkei has spent the last two days recovering from the 1.6 per cent drop in its value on Monday, rising by 0.8 per cent yesterday and a further 1.3 per cent today.

Japanese stocks were boosted by the news that the country's exports were 18.4 per cent up in November, which was ahead of the 17.9 per cent that had been predicted by analysts.

A weaker yen provided more support for the Nikkei during today's trading, with the stock market's major exporters performing well due to the weakness of the currency compared to the dollar.

According to a report by, Asian stock markets were up almost across the board during trading today, with only the Shanghai Composite and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 falling, with the indexes both down less than 0.1 per cent on the start of the day.

There were good gains for the Hang Seng Index, which was up by 0.6 per cent, while South Korea's Kospi was also up by 0.3 per cent for the day.

Fed's move

Investors had been cautious earlier in the week ahead of the next meeting of the Federal Reserve in the US, with speculation rising that it could start to taper its quantitative easing programme in the coming months.

Overnight in the US, stock markets slipped slightly lower in after-hours trading with investors awaiting the outcome of the Fed's latest meeting. All of the three major indexes in the US were down, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling by the smallest amount – a drop of just 0.06 per cent. Elsewhere, the S&P 500 index was down by 0.31 per cent, while there was a 0.14 per cent dip for the Nasdaq Composite index.

Opinions are split down the middle regarding whether or not the Fed will amend its monetary policy this month, although the expectation is that a change will be announced soon. The Fed's actions are likely to have an impact on markets around the world.

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