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Japanese Market Recovers After Weak Start

The Japanese stock market recovered after a weak start and is higher on Friday following the positive lead overnight from Wall Street. However, gains are modest amid worries about rising tensions in the Middle East following reports about attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 55.41 points or 0.26 percent to 21,087.41, after touching a low of 20,971.18 in early trades. Japanese shares declined on Thursday.

The major exporters are mostly higher despite a stronger yen. Sony is rising more than 3 percent, Panasonic is adding 0.4 percent and Canon is up 0.2 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is down 0.3 percent.

Among tech stocks, Tokyo Electron is losing more than 2 percent and Advantest is lower by almost 2 percent.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is up 0.2 percent and Fast Retailing is advancing more than 1 percent. In the auto space, Toyota Motor is up 0.7 percent and Honda Motor is adding 0.5 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging up 0.1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is rising 0.3 percent. In the oil sector, Inpex and Japan Petroleum are advancing more than 1 percent each after crude oil prices rebounded overnight.

Among the major gainers, Chiyoda Corp. is rising more than 5 percent, while Mitsui E&S, Idemitsu Kosan and Yamaha Corp. are all advancing more than 2 percent each.

On the flip side, Tokyo Dome is losing more than 4 percent, Okuma Corp. is lower by almost 3 percent and Nippon Yusen is declining more than 2 percent.

In economic news, Japan will see final April numbers for industrial production today.

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 amid continued optimism that tame inflation will lead the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates after a Labor Department report showed bigger than expected decreases in U.S. import and export prices. Meanwhile, a separate report from the Labor Department said first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly edged higher in the week ended June 8.

The Dow rose 101.94 points or 0.4 percent to 26,106.77, the Nasdaq advanced 44.41 points or 0.6 percent to 7,837.13 and the S&P 500 climbed 11.80 points or 0.4 percent to 2,891.64.

The major European markets saw modest strength on Thursday. While the German DAX Index rose by 0.4 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both closed just above the unchanged line.

Crude oil prices rebounded on Thursday after closing at five-month lows in the previous session, as reports about attack on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman suggested a likely fall in crude supply in the international market. WTI crude for July delivery jumped $1.14 or 2.2 percent to $52.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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