Japanese Market Trades Higher

The Japanese stock market is trading modestly higher on Thursday, with investors indulging in some buying after the previous session's decline. While a positive lead from Wall Street is aiding sentiment, a slightly stronger yen is limiting the market's gains.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index is up 50.3 points or 0.3 percent at 15,316.9, after having advanced to 15,345.1 earlier.

Unitika is rising 4.3 percent. Amada Co. and Fujitsu are moving up 3.7 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively. KDDI Corp., Kobe Steel, Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Sumco Corp., Mitsui Mining & Smelting, GS Yuasa Corp., Kansai Electric Power, NH Foods and Dentsu Inc. are up 1.7 to 2.5 percent.

Yahoo Japan is climbing 1.7 percent after the company announced that it will foray into the credit card business by investing in KC Card, a subsidiary of midsize nonbank financial institution J Trust. While Yahoo Japan will buy a 65 percent stake, Softbank Payment Service will purchase the rest.

Tokyo Electric Power announced that it is planning to enter the U.K. wholesale power market. Initially, Tokyo Electric Power will partner NGK Insulators and form a joint venture in the U.K. While Tokyo Electric Power is up 0.8 percent, NGK Insulators is trading higher by about 1.7 percent.

Meanwhile, Dainippon Screen Manufacturing is down 3.5 percent. Canon Inc. (CAJ), Minebea Co., Yokohama Rubber, Asahi Glass, Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, Shiseido Co. and Tokyo Electron are declining 1.5 to 2.5 percent.

Ajinomoto Co. is reportedly planning acquisitions, looking to expand in Poland as it seeks growth in frozen food and seasoning in Europe and the U.S. The stock is lower by about 1.2 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 101 yen level in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 101.75 to the U.S. dollar, compared to Wednesday's close of 101.90 yen per dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan are notably higher. Shanghai, Singapore, Indonesia and New Zealand are also trading higher, while Malaysia is modestly lower.

On Wall Street, stocks ended mostly higher on Wednesday, amid optimism about an economic recovery following a sharp 2.9 percent contraction in first-quarter GDP. The Dow rose 49.4 points or 0.3 percent to 16,897.5, the Nasdaq advanced 29.4 points or 0.7 percent to 4,379.8 and the S&P 500 climbed 9.5 points or 0.5 percent to 1,959.5.

Major European markets ended notably lower on Wednesday. While the French CAC 40 index tumbled by 1.3 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index and the German DAX index declined by 0.8 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude oil snapped a two-day loss to end higher on Wednesday, amid fears the ongoing violence in Iraq could disrupt oil supplies from the region and on the Obama administration's decision to ease a ban on crude exports from the U.S.

Crude for August delivery ended up $0.47 or 0.4 percent at $106.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after scaling a high of $107.50 a barrel intraday.

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