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Japanese Market Declines

The Japanese stock market is extending losses from Friday's session and the safe-haven yen strengthened on Monday amid worries about a global trade war following the U.S. government's decision to impose metal tariffs.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 118.71 points or 0.56 percent to 21,062.93, off a low of 21,003.62 earlier.

The major exporters are weak. Canon is down 1 percent, while Sony, Mitsubishi Electric and Panasonic are all losing more than 1 percent each. SoftBank is also lower by more than 1 percent.

Among the major automakers, Toyota is down more than 1 percent and Honda is declining almost 2 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are both losing almost 1 percent each.

Among steel makers, Nisshin Steel is adding 0.2 percent, while Kobe Steel is losing almost 2 percent and JFE Holdings is losing more than 2 percent, extending losses from Friday.

In the oil space, Inpex is rising 0.2 percent while Japan Petroleum Exploration is declining more than 1 percent despite crude oil prices rising on Friday.

Among the market's best performers, KDDI Corp. is rising 2 percent and Japan Tobacco is advancing almost 2 percent.

On the flip side, Mitsui Mining & Smelting is losing almost 5 percent, while Showa Denko, Tokai Carbon and Sumco Corp. are lower by more than 4 percent each.

In economic news, the latest survey from Nikkei showed that the services sector in Japan continued to expand in February, albeit at a slightly slower pace, with a services PMI score of 51.7. That's down from 51.9 in January, although it remains above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 105 yen-range on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a significant turnaround on Friday after coming under pressure early in the session, with the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 climbing into positive territory. Bargain hunting may have contributed to the rebound, while the initial drop came as traders expressed concerns about the impact President Donald Trump's plans to impose new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will have on global trade.

While the Dow fell 70.92 points or 0.3 percent to 24,538.06, the Nasdaq jumped 77.31 points or 1.1 percent to 7,257.87 and the S&P 500 climbed 13.58 points or 0.5 percent to 2,691.25.

The major European markets moved sharply lower on Friday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index tumbled by 1.5 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index plummeted by 2.3 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rose Friday, supported by a weaker U.S. dollar and a modest increase in the number of U.S. oil rigs in operation. Crude oil futures added $0.26 or 0.4 percent to settle at $61.25 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, but posted the first weekly loss in three weeks.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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