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Japanese Market Advances

The Japanese stock market is advancing on Friday, tracking a weaker yen as well as the overnight gains on Wall Street where stocks closed higher for the fifth straight session.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 195.28 points or 0.97 percent to 20,359.08, after rising to a high of 20,388.78 earlier. Japanese shares snapped a three-day winning streak to close lower on Thursday.

Among the major exporters, Panasonic is rising more than 2 percent, Sony is advancing more than 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is up almost 1 percent and Canon is adding 0.7 percent.

In the tech sector, Advantest is gaining more than 4 percent and Tokyo Electron is rising more than 1 percent.

Among the major automakers, Honda and Toyota are higher by more than 1 percent each.
In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging up 0.1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding 0.2 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is declining 0.5 percent and Japan Petroleum is losing almost 1 percent despite crude oil prices rising for a ninth straight session overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Fast Retailing is rising more than 4 percent, Komatsu is advancing more than 2 percent and Kuraray is higher by almost 2 percent.

On the flip side, Aeon Co. and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha are losing almost 3 percent each, while Yamaha Corp. and Seven & I Holdings are down more than 2 percent each.

On the economic front, the Ministry of Finance said that Japan had a current account surplus of 757.2 billion yen in November. That exceeded expectations for a surplus of 566.3 billion yen and was down from 1,309.9 billion yen in October.

The trade balance reflected a deficit of 559.1 billion yen versus expectations for a shortfall of 612.6 billion yen, following the 321.7 billion yen deficit in the previous month.

The Bank of Japan said that overall bank lending in Japan was up 2.4 percent on year in December, coming in at 534.545 trillion yen. That follows the 2.1 percent increase in November.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 108 yen-range on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Thursday for the fifth consecutive session after seeing initial weakness as assessments of trade talks between the U.S. and China showed no significant breakthroughs. A statement from the office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the meetings were held as part of an agreement between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to engage in 90 days of negotiations with a view to achieving needed structural changes in China.

The Dow advanced 122.80 points or 0.5 percent to 24,001.92, the Nasdaq rose 28.99 points or 0.4 percent to 6,986.07 and the S&P 500 climbed 11.68 points or 0.5 percent to 2,596.64.

The major European markets ended mixed on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 Index dipped by 0.2 percent, the German DAX Index rose by 0.3 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.5 percent.

Crude oil futures ended higher on Thursday, extending gains to a ninth successive session, with recent reports showing declines in crude output from OPEC and other major producers. WTI crude added $0.23 or 0.4 percent to close at $52.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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