The Japanese market opened on a firm note on Friday with investors tracking a positive lead from Wall Street and picking up stocks. The yen's decline against the euro also aided sentiment to an extent.
However, the market pared most of its gains and is currently trading slightly above the unchanged line, with investors turning cautious and indulged in some profit taking ahead of Bank of Japan's interest rate decision.
Pharmaceuticals, real estate, financial and insurance stocks moved higher in early trades, but gave up some gains subsequently. Electric power, manufacturing, steel, non-ferrous metals and automobile stocks are trading mixed.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which briefly slipped into negative territory after rising to 8,625.2 in early trades, is currently at 8,574.9, up 6 points from its previous close.
Dai-ichi Life Insurance, Nippon Sheet Glass and Heiwa Real Estate are trading higher by 2.5 to 2.8 percent.
Resona Holdings, NEC Corp, Sumitomo Metal Mining, Nippon Suisan Kaisha and Kajima Corp are also trading notably higher.
Shares of Takashimaya Co. are up sharply on reports the company's operating profit is likely to see a 40 percent jump in the March-May quarter.
Unitika Ltd shares are down as much as 4.5 percent. Nippon Electric Glass, Alps Electric, Daiwa Securities Group, Nomura Holdings, Toho Zinc and Mazda Motor are all trading lower by 2 to 2.5 percent.
The Bank of Japan will conclude its two-day monetary policy meeting later in the day and then announce its decision on interest rates. No change is expected from the current level of 0.10 percent, although the bank may introduce additional easing measures.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the mid 79 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 79.40 to the dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Malaysia, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore are trading higher, with their benchmark gaining 0.2 to 1.2 percent. Meanwhile, South Korea is the only market in negative territory. Markets across the region ended mostly lower on Thursday.
On Wall Street, stocks ended with strong gains on Thursday amid optimism about further stimulus. The market saw high volatility in the final hour on the back of reports that central banks from major economies may take necessary steps to stabilize the financial markets after the Greek elections on Sunday.
The Dow jumped 155.5 points or 1.2 percent to 12,651.9, the Nasdaq rose 17.7 points or 0.6 percent to 2,836.3 and the S&P 500 climbed 14.2 points or 1.1 percent to 1,329.1.
Major European markets ended on a mixed note on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 index crept up 0.1 percent, the German DAX index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index edged lower by 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil futures settled sharply higher on Thursday, on hopes that the OPEC will leave its production ceiling unchanged. Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for July delivery moved up $1.29 or 1.6 percent to close at $83.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Thursday.
by RTT Staff Writer
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