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Japanese Market Rises, Sony Gains

The Japanese stock market is rising and the safe-haven yen weakened on Friday following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street for a third straight session as upbeat corporate earnings results and U.S. economic data helped offset worries about U.S.-China trade tensions.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 252.97 points or 1.20 percent to 21,315.95, after touching a high of 21,329.96 earlier. Japanese shares closed lower on Thursday.

Shares of Sony Corp. are gaining almost 8 percent after the company said Thursday that it will buy back shares worth up to 200 billion yen, or $1.82 billion. In February, the electronics conglomerate had announced its first ever stock repurchase of 100 billion yen.

The other major exporters are modestly higher. Canon is adding more than 1 percent, while Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric are up almost 1 percent each.

Among tech stocks, Tokyo Electron is higher by more than 2 percent, while Advantest is losing more than 1 percent. In the auto space, Honda is advancing almost 1 percent and Toyota is up 0.5 percent.

Among the major banks, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is higher by almost 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is rising almost 1 percent. In the oil sector, Inpex and Japan Petroleum are rising more than 2 percent each after crude oil prices rose to a two-week high overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Cyberagent is rising almost 4 percent, while Nippon Light Metal, Konami Holdings, Idemitsu Kosan and NEC are all higher by more than 3 percent each.

On the flip side, TDK Corp. and Taiyo Yuden are losing more than 3 percent each, while Mitsui Mining & Smelting and Kuraray Co. are lower by more than 2 percent each.

On the economic front, Japan will release March figures for its tertiary industry index and April numbers for nationwide as well as Tokyo area department store sales today.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Thursday, extending gains from the previous sessions, partly reflecting a positive reaction to earnings news from retail giant Walmart and networking giant Cisco Systems. The markets also benefited from the release of a batch of upbeat economic data, including report from the Labor Department showing initial jobless claims dropped more than expected in the week ended May 11th.

The Dow climbed 214.66 points or 0.8 percent to 25,862.68, the Nasdaq jumped 75.90 points or 1 percent to 7,898.05 and the S&P 500 advanced 25.36 points or 0.9 percent to 2,876.32.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Thursday. While the German DAX Index surged up by 1.7 percent, the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 1.4 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.8 percent.

Crude oil prices climbed to a 2-week high on Thursday, extending recent gains amid concerns about supply disruptions due to an escalation in tensions in the Middle East. WTI crude for June ended up $0.85 or 1.4 percent at $62.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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