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Japanese Market Declines

The Japanese stock market is declining on Thursday after three straight days of gains despite the positive cues overnight from Wall Street, while a stronger yen weighed on exporters' stocks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 309.81 points or 1.52 percent to 20,117.25, after touching a low of 20,102.14 earlier. Japanese shares rose for a third day on Wednesday.

Among the major exporters, Sony is losing more than 3 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is lower by more than 1 percent, Canon is declining 0.6 percent and Panasonic is down 0.4 percent. In the tech sector, Advantest is adding 0.5 percent and Tokyo Electron is rising 0.4 percent.

Among the major automakers, Honda is declining more than 1 percent. Toyota is down 0.4 percent after the automaker announced the recall of 1.7 million vehicles in North America as part of the recall involving Takata airbag inflators.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by 0.2 percent, and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down 0.1 percent. In the oil space, Inpex is advancing 1 percent, while Japan Petroleum is declining 0.4 percent despite a more than 5 percent surge in crude oil prices overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Chiyoda Corp. is rising more than 2 percent and Screen Holdings is advancing almost 2 percent.

On the flip side, Concordia Financial is losing more than 4 percent, while Kao Corp. and Taiyo Yuden are lower by almost 4 percent each.

On the economic front, Japan will see preliminary numbers for its leading and coincident indexes today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 107 yen-range on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed for the fourth consecutive session on Wednesday, continuing to benefit from optimism about a potential trade deal between the U.S. and China after talks between U.S. and Chinese officials were extended to a third day. In addition, minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting confirmed Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's recent remarks suggesting the central bank will take a patient approach to further interest rate increases.

The Dow climbed 91.67 points or 0.4 percent to 23,879.12, the Nasdaq advanced 60.08 points or 0.9 percent to 6,957.08 and the S&P 500 rose 10.55 points or 0.4 percent to 2,584.96.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Wednesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index climbed 0.7 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both advanced by 0.8 percent.

Crude oil prices rose on Wednesday amid easing worries about energy demand and on data showing a drop in U.S. crude stockpiles in the week to January 4. WTI crude for February advanced $2.58 or 5.2 percent to close at $52.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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