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Japanese Market Trades Modestly Higher

The Japanese stock market is trading a bit sluggish on Tuesday with stocks swinging between gains and losses amid cautious trades. While the overnight positive close of the Dow is aiding sentiment, the yen's rise against the dollar appears to be prompting a section of investors to indulge in some selling.

Automobile, marine transport, insurance, oil and financial stocks edged higher in early trades, but are currently trading off their highs. Shares from electric power, precision instruments, manufacturing and pharmaceutical sectors are slightly weak.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index is currently trading at 9,508, up 37.4 points or 0.4 percent from its previous close.

Itochu Corp, Softbank Corp, Pioneer Corp, Daiwa Securities Group, Mitsubishi Electric, J Front Retailing, Marui Group, Yahoo Japan, Yokohama Group and Mitsumi Electric are up 2 to 3 percent.

Oki Electric Industry, Toho Zinc, Fuji Heavy Industries, Fujitsu, Heiwa Real Estate, Konami Corp, Dai-ichi Life Insurance, T&D Holdings and Trend Micro are also trading notably higher.

Among bank stocks, Aozora Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Shinsei Bank and SMFG are up 0.7 to 1.5 percent, while Bank of Yokohama, Mizuho Financial and Chiba Bank are trading weak.

In the automobile space, Hino Motors, Nissan Motor, Isuzu Motors and Toyota Motor are up with modest gains. Honda Motor and Toyota Motor are trading weak, while Mazda Motor and Mitsubishi Motor are trading flat.

Olympus Corp shares are down by over 2.5 percent on reports that two board members of the company are likely to remain division heads after resigning as directors.

Terumo Corp, Kansai Electric Power, Osaka Gas, Chubu Electric Power, Nippon Light Metal, Nisshin Steel, Sharp Corp, Sony Corp and Mitsubishi Chemical are also trading notably lower.

On the economic front, Japan is scheduled to release final February figures for industrial production, highlighting a modest day for Asia-Pacific economic activity. Little change is expected from the preliminary reading that showed an increase of 1.5 percent on year and a contraction of 1.2 percent on month, plus an increase of 3.4 percent on year in capacity utilization.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the mid-80 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 80.46 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, Shanghai, Malaysia, New Zealand and South Korea are up marginally, while Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan are trading weak. Markets across the region ended mostly lower on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks turned in a mixed performance on Monday amid a mixed batch of U.S. economic data. While the Dow ended up 71.8 points or 0.6 percent at 12,921.4, the Nasdaq drifted down 22.9 points or 0.8 percent to 2,988.4 and the S&P 500 edged down 0.7 points or 0.1 percent to 1,369.6.

Major European markets moved higher on Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index moved up 0.3 percent, the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index gained 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude oil futures closed slightly higher on Monday. Crude for May delivery ended up $0.10 or 0.1 percent at $102.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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