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Japanese Market Pares Early Gains

After a firm start on the back of some hectic buying in several blue chip stocks following the International Monetary Fund pledging fresh capital to protect the global economy from the European debt crisis, the Japanese stock market pared most of its gains due to lack of support at higher levels.

Pharmaceuticals, financial and transport stocks opened on a buoyant note but gave up some gains subsequently. Shares from electric power, mining and gas sectors are trading weak.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which rose to 9,643.3 in early trades, is currently trading at 9,563.2, up just 1.8 points from its previous close.

Meidensha Corp. shares are up nearly 5 percent. Showa Shell KK, Toho Zinc, JGC Corp, Kyocera Corp, Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma, Chugai Pharmaceutical, IHI Corp, Sharp Corp and Sojitz Corp are all trading higher by 2 to 3 percent.

Nippon Suisan, Oki Electric Industry, Astellas Pharma, Chiyoda Corp, JFE Holdings, Matsui Securities, Mitsubishi Paper Mills and Mitsubishi Motor are also up with strong gains.

Mitsui Chemicals Inc. shares are down more than 5 percent following an explosion in the company's glue factory. Kansai Electric Power is trading lower by over 4 percent and Kawasaki Kisen is down 3.4 percent.

Isuzu Motors, Unitika, Chubu Electric Power, Olympus Corp, Tokyo Electric Power, Nippon Sheet Glass and Sumco Corp are down 1.5 to 2.2 percent.

Tokyo Gas, Shinsei Bank, Casio Computer, JX Holdings, Osaka Gas and Furukawa Electric are also trading notably lower.

On the economic front, Japan is scheduled to release final numbers for February's leading and coincident indexes, highlighting a light day for Asia-Pacific economic activity. Little change is expected from the preliminary readings that showed the leading index with a score of 96.6 and the coincident with a reading of 93.7.

Japan also will see March figures for supermarket sales; they were up 0.3 percent on year in February.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 81 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 81.38 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and South Korea are trading notably lower, while New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan are down marginally. Markets across the region turned in a mixed performance on Friday. Markets across the region turned in a mixed performance on Friday.

On Wall Street, the major averages ended on opposite sides of the unchanged line on Friday. While upbeat earnings reports aided sentiment early on in the session, profit taking wiped off gains as the day progressed.

The Nasdaq ended down 7.1 points or 0.2 percent at 3,000.5, while the Dow rose 65.2 points or 0.5 percent to 13,029.3 and the S&P 500 edged up 1.6 points or 0.1 percent to 1,378.5.

Major European markets moved higher on Friday. The German DAX index jumped 1.2 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index and the French CAC 40 index both advanced by 0.5 percent.

U.S. crude oil futures surged higher on Friday with a weak dollar and some encouraging economic data from Europe contributing to its surge. Crude for May delivery gained $1.23 or 0.8 percent to close at $103.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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