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Asian Markets Mostly Lower


Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Thursday following the modest losses overnight on Wall Street amid mixed corporate earnings results. Worries about global economic growth also weighed on investor sentiment after Germany's business confidence unexpectedly weakened in April and South Korea's economy unexpectedly shrunk in the first quarter.

The Japanese market is modestly higher, recovering after a weak start following the modest losses overnight on Wall Street.

Investors remained cautious as they look ahead to the Bank of Japan's monetary policy decision due later in the day. The central bank is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged at -0.1 percent.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 36.49 points or 0.16 percent to 22,236.49, after touching a low of 22,155.23 in early trades. Japanese shares ended a choppy session lower on Wednesday.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Sony is advancing almost 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is adding 0.2 percent, while Panasonic is down 0.2 percent.

Canon is losing almost 3 percent after reporting a 45 percent fall in first-quarter profit and lowering its full-year outlook.

Among tech stocks, Advantest is rising more than 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is higher by more than 1 percent.

SoftBank's shares are rising more than 1 percent after German financial technology firm Wirecard said that the Japanese conglomerate will invest about 900 million euros in the company.

Hitachi Ltd. will acquire U.S. assembly robot-maker JR Automation Technologies from private equity group Crestview Partners for $1.43 billion to strengthen its factory automation business in the U.S. market. Hitachi's shares are advancing more than 1 percent.

In the auto space, Honda is declining 0.4 percent, while Toyota is adding 0.1 percent.
Shares of Nissan Motor are losing almost 2 percent after the automaker slashed its full-year profit forecast.

In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by more than 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is declining 0.6 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is lower by more than 2 percent and Inpex is losing almost 2 percent after crude oil prices edged lower overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Kao Corp. is gaining 5 percent, Cyberagent is higher by almost 5 percent and Hitachi Construction Machinery is rising almost 4 percent.

On the flip side, Kansai Electric Power is losing more than 4 percent and Mitsui Mining & Smelting is declining almost 3 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 112 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong are all lower, while Taiwan is edging higher. The markets in Australia and New Zealand are closed on Thursday for ANZAC Day.

On Wall Street, stocks closed modestly lower on Wednesday in choppy trading as traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves amid uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets after yesterday's advance lifted the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 to record closing highs. A mixed batch of earnings news from big-name companies such as Boeing, Caterpillar and AT&T also contributed to the choppy trading.

The Dow fell 59.34 points or 0.2 percent to 26,597.05 points, the Nasdaq slipped 18.81 points or 0.2 percent to 8,102.01 and the S&P 500 dipped 6.43 points or 0.2 percent to 2,927.25.

The major European markets ended mixed on Wednesday. While the German DAX Index advanced by 0.6 percent, the French CAC 40 Index dipped by 0.3 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index dropped by 0.7 percent.

Crude oil prices edged lower on Wednesday after data from Energy Information Administration showed a bigger than expected weekly increase in crude oil inventories in the U.S. WTI crude oil for June delivery dipped $0.41 or 0.6 percent to close at $65.89 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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