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Japanese Market Edges Lower

The Japanese stock market is edging lower on Thursday after opening higher following the positive lead from Wall Street, even as a stronger yen dampened sentiment. Investors are also adopting a cautious stance ahead of the release of the closely-watched U.S. monthly jobs report on Friday.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 2.37 points or 0.01 percent to 20,624.29, after rising to a high of 20,667.47 in early trades.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Sony is declining more than 2 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is down almost 1 percent, while Canon is adding 0.3 percent and Panasonic is edging up less than 0.1 percent.

Among automakers, Toyota is rising more than 1 percent, while Honda is up almost 1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is declining 0.4 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down 0.3 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is lower by 0.4 percent, while Japan Petroleum Exploration is adding 0.5 percent after crude oil prices declined below $50 a barrel overnight.

Among the best performers, Asahi Group and Nippon Suisan Kaisha are rising more than 5 percent each, while Sapporo Holdings is adding more than 3 percent.

On the flip side, Showa Denko and Seiko Epson are losing almost 3 percent each, while JFE Holdings is down almost 2 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 112 yen-range on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed modestly higher on Wednesday, though buying interest was somewhat subdued, with traders reluctant to make more significant moves ahead of the release of the closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.

The Dow edged up 19.97 points or 0.1 percent to 22,661.64, the Nasdaq crept up 2.91 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 6,534.63 and the S&P 500 inched up 3.16 points or 0.1 percent to 2,537.74.

The major European markets turned mixed on Wednesday. While the German DAX Index rose by 0.5 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index closed just below the unchanged line and the French CAC 40 Index edged down by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil futures dropped below $50 a barrel on Wednesday as government data confirmed a large build in gasoline stockpiles. WTI crude declined $0.44 cents or 0.9 percent to close at $49.98 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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