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Japanese Market Modestly Higher

The Japanese stock market is modestly higher on Monday in choppy trading following the weak cues from Wall Street Friday after the release of weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data for the month of February.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 35.55 points or 0.17 percent to 21,061.11, after touching a low of 20,938.00 earlier. Japanese shares extended losses for a fourth straight session on Friday.

The major exporters are mixed on a flat yen. Canon is adding 0.6 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is rising 0.5 percent, while Sony is declining more than 1 percent and Panasonic is down almost 1 percent.

In the tech sector, Advantest is losing 2 percent, while Tokyo Electron is adding 0.5 percent. Among the major automakers, Honda and Toyota are adding almost 1 percent each.

In the banking space, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is up 0.7 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding 0.3 percent. In the oil sector, Inpex is lower by more than 1 percent and Japan Petroleum is down 1 percent after crude oil prices declined on Friday.

Among the major gainers, Hitachi is gaining 4 percent.

On the flip side, Chiyoda Corp. is losing more than 6 percent and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha is lower by 4 percent. Taiyo Yuden, Dena Co., Konami Holdings and Alps Alpine are all declining more than 2 percent each.

On the economic front, the Bank of Japan said that the M2 money stock in Japan was up 2.4 percent on year in February, coming in at 1,010.1 trillion yen. That was in line with expectations and up from the downwardly revised 2.3 percent in January. The M3 money stock was up an annual 2.1 percent for the fourth straight month, matching expectations at 1,343.1 trillion yen.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 111 yen-range on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks rallied going into the close of trading on Friday after seeing initial weakness, but still ended modestly lower. The initial weakness came after a report from the Labor Department revealed job growth nearly ground to a halt in February after soaring in January. The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment edged up by 20,000 jobs in February after jumping by an upwardly revised 311,000 jobs in January. Economists had expected employment to increase by about 180,000 jobs compared to the spike of 304,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

The Dow edged down 22.99 points or 0.1 percent to 25,450.24, the Nasdaq dipped 13.32 points or 0.2 percent to 7,408.14 and the S&P 500 slipped 5.86 points or 0.2 percent to 2,743.07.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Friday. While the German DAX Index fell by 0.5 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both slid by 0.7 percent.

Crude oil futures ended lower on Friday as worries about demand growth resurfaced on data showing a weak jobs growth in the U.S. in the month of February and a sharp plunge in Chinese exports. WTI crude for April delivery fell $0.59 or 1 percent to $56.07 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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