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Japanese Market Notably Lower, Sony Rises

The Japanese stock market is notably lower on Friday amid worries about global economic growth and the U.S.-China trade dispute after U.S. President Donald Trump said he did not plan to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a key March 1 deadline. In addition, a stronger yen weighed on exporters' shares.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 267.43 points or 1.29 percent to 20,483.85, after touching a low of 20,468.76 earlier. Japanese shares fell on Thursday despite SoftBank announcing a buyback of its shares.

The major exporters are mostly lower on a stronger yen. Mitsubishi Electric is lower by almost 3 percent, Panasonic is losing more than 1 percent, and Canon is down almost 1 percent.

Sony announced it's first-ever share buyback of 100 billion yen, to be conducted through March 22, and equivalent to 2.36 percent of the company's outstanding stock. The company's shares are rising more than 5 percent.

In the tech sector, Advantest is declining more than 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is losing more than 3 percent. Among the major automakers, Toyota and Honda are down more than 1 percent each.

In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is declining almost 1 percent. In the oil space, Japan Petroleum is lower by more than 2 percent and Inpex is losing 2 percent after crude oil prices declined overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Terumo Corp. is rising almost 7 percent, Meiji Holdings is higher by more than 5 percent and Fujifilm Holdings is advancing almost 5 percent.

On the flip side, Nikon Corp. is losing more than 11 percent, Toyo Seikan Group is declining more than 9 percent and Ricoh Co. is lower by more than 7 percent.

On the economic front, the Ministry of Finance said that Japan posted a current account surplus of 452.8 billion yen in December, down 43.1 percent on year. That was shy of expectations for a surplus of 458.5 billion yen and down from 757.2 billion yen in November.

Japan's trade balance in December showed a surplus of 216.2 billion yen, exceeding forecasts for 132.4 billion yen following the 559.1 billion yen deficit in the previous month. Exports were down 2.8 percent on year to 7.069 trillion yen after gaining 1.9 percent a month earlier. Imports added an annual 1.6 percent to 6.853 trillion yen after surging 13.5 percent on year in November.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that the average of household spending in Japan was up a discontinuity adjusted 0.1 percent on year in December, coming in at 329,271 yen. That missed expectations for an increase of 0.9 percent following the 0.6 percent contraction in November.

The Bank of Japan said that overall bank lending in Japan was up 2.4 percent on year in January, coming in at 535.350 trillion yen and roughly unchanged from December. Excluding trusts, bank lending advanced an annual 2.4 percent to 465.921 trillion yen, slowing from the 2.5 percent increase in the previous month.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 109 yen-range on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed notably lower on Thursday amid renewed concerns about a U.S.-China trade deal after a report from CNBC said President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are "highly unlikely" to meet before a March 2 deadline. Worries about the global economy also weighed on the markets after the European Commission lowered its eurozone growth forecast.

The Dow slumped 220.77 points or 0.9 percent to 25,169.53, the Nasdaq plunged 86.93 points or 1.2 percent to 7,288.35 and the S&P 500 tumbled 25.56 points or 0.9 percent to 2,706.05.

The major European markets also moved notably lower on Thursday. While the German DAX Index plunged by 2.7 percent, the French CAC 40 Index tumbled by 1.8 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slumped by 1.1 percent.

Crude oil prices declined on Thursday amid concerns about demand growth due to the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China. Crude for March delivery dropped $1.37 or 2.5 percent to $52.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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