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Japanese Market Sharply Higher Ahead Of BOJ Decision

The Japanese stock market is sharply higher on Friday, extending gains from the previous session, after U.S. President Donald Trump signed proclamations imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports but exempt Canada and Mexico.

Geopolitical tensions in the Asian region also eased after Trump agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May and Kim pledged to refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests. In addition, a weaker yen lifted exporters' shares.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan will wrap up its monetary policy meeting announce its decision on interest rates later in the day. The central bank is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged at -0.1 percent.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 448.58 points or 2.10 percent to 21,816.65, off a high of 21,884.45 earlier.

The major exporters are higher on a weaker yen. Panasonic is gaining almost 3 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is rising more than 2 percent, Sony is advancing almost 1 percent and Canon is up more than 1 percent. SoftBank is higher by almost 3 percent.

Among the major automakers, Toyota is advancing more than 1 percent and Honda is up 0.3 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising almost 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is higher by almost 2 percent.

Steel maker Japan Steel Works is rising more than 3 percent and Nippon Steel is adding almost 1 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is gaining almost 2 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is advancing more than 1 percent despite crude oil prices falling overnight.

Among the market's best performers, Sekisui House is gaining almost 6 percent, while Hitachi Construction Machinery, Denka Co. and Eisai Co. are all rising more than 4 percent each.

On the flip side, Kobe Steel is declining almost 2 percent and Takeda Pharmaceutical is down 0.6 percent.

On the economic front, the Bank of Japan said that the M2 money stock in Japan was up 3.3 percent on year in February, coming in at 987.4 trillion yen. That was in line with expectations and down from 3.4 percent in January.

The M3 money stock gained an annual 2.8 percent to 1,316.0 trillion yen - again matching forecasts and down from 2.9 percent in the previous month.

Japan will also see January results for labor cash earnings and household spending today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 106 yen-range on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed firmly in positive territory in a volatile session on Thursday after President Donald Trump signed proclamations imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The choppy trading seen for much of the day came as traders looked ahead to the release of the Labor Department's closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq closed higher for the fifth consecutive session, climbing 31.30 points or 0.4 percent to 7,427.95. The Dow also rose 93.85 points or 0.4 percent to 24,895.21, and the S&P 500 advanced 12.17 points or 0.5 percent to 2,738.97.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 1.3 percent, the German DAX Index advanced by 0.9 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.6 percent.

Crude oil futures tumbled Thursday on expectations that the U.S. dollar will strengthen on rising interest rates. April WTI oil declined $1.03 or 1.7 percent to settle at $60.12 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest in three weeks.

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