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Japanese Market Modestly Lower

The Japanese stock market is modestly lower on Wednesday in choppy trade following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's congressional testimony later in the day. Worries about rising Japan-South Korea trade tensions also weighed on the market.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is declining 22.70 points or 0.11 percent to 21,542.45, after touching a high of 21,601.86 earlier. Japanese shares eked out small gains on Tuesday.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Sony is adding 0.5 percent and Canon is rising 0.4 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is losing more than 1 percent and Panasonic is declining almost 1 percent.

Among tech stocks, Advantest is rising almost 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is up 0.4 percent.

Nintendo is reportedly exploring partially relocating the production of its Nintendo Switch video game console to Vietnam from China this summer amid the ongoing U.S.-China trade war. Shares of Nintendo are lower by more than 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is advancing almost 1 percent, while Japan Petroleum is lower by 0.5 percent.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is rising 0.4 percent and Fast Retailing is higher by 1 percent. In the auto space, Toyota Motor is declining 0.7 percent and Honda Motor is edging down 0.1 percent.

Mitsubishi Motors said that the company will invest in Indonesian ride-hailing giant Gojek along with trading house Mitsubishi Corp. However, shares of Mitsubishi Motors are declining more than 1 percent, while Mitsubishi Corp.'s shares are down 0.2 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Chiba Bank is rising more than 3 percent, while KDDI Corp. and Dena Co. are higher by almost 3 percent each.

On the flip side, Showa Denko is losing more than 3 percent, while Tosoh Corp. and Kuraray Co. are declining more than 2 percent each.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan said that producer prices in Japan were down 0.5 percent on month in June. That missed expectations for a monthly decline of 0.1 percent, which would have been unchanged from the May reading.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 108 yen range on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Tuesday after coming under pressure early in the session. A notable drop by 3M weighed on the Dow after RBC Capital Markets downgraded its rating on the company's stock to Sector Perform from Outperform. Overall trading activity was subdued, as traders looked ahead to Powell's testimony, hoping for signs of a near-term interest rate cut.

The Nasdaq climbed 43.35 points or 0.5 percent to 8,141.73 and the S&P 500 inched up 3.68 points or 0.1 percent to 2,979.63, while the Dow ended the session down 22.65 points or 0.1 percent at 26,783.49.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index fell by 0.9 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slipped by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled higher on Tuesday, with traders making cautious moves, weighing crude demand and supply prospects ahead of weekly inventory data. WTI crude for August ended up $0.17 or 0.3 percent at $57.83 a barrel.

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