Japanese Market Drifts Lower

The Japanese stock market slipped into negative territory on Friday after opening higher, tracking the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street. Investors also turned cautious ahead of the release of China's trade date for June later today.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is declining 26.92 points or 0.12 percent to 21,616.61, after touching a high of 21,720.14 in early trades. Japanese shares closed higher on Thursday.

The major exporters are mostly higher on a weaker yen. Sony is advancing 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is rising 0.7 percent and Panasonic is adding 0.4 percent and, while Canon is down 0.2 percent.

Among tech stocks, Advantest is declining more than 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is down 0.4 percent.

Nintendo said it will release the new Switch Lite game console, a scaled back, cheaper version of its Switch game console, on September 20 ahead of the holiday shopping season. The company's shares are edging down 0.1 percent.

In the auto space, Honda Motor and Toyota Motor are adding 0.3 percent each.
In the oil sector, Inpex is losing almost 2 percent and Japan Petroleum is down 0.4 percent after crude oil prices ended lower overnight.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is rising almost 1 percent. Fast Retailing is advancing more than 1 percent after it reported a 7 percent increase in group net profit in the nine months to May.

Among the other major losers, Yaskawa Electric is losing more than 3 percent and JGC Corp. is declining more than 2 percent.

In economic news, Japan will see final May 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 mixed on Thursday in choppy trading, with the Dow and the S&P 500 reaching new record closing highs. The advance by the Dow was partly due to a jump by shares of UnitedHealth and other health insurers on news President Donald Trump is abandoning a plan to eliminate rebates from government drug plans. The proposal was the centerpiece of Trump's blueprint to lower drug costs, but faced stiff resistance from pharmacy-benefit managers.

While the Dow jumped 227.88 points or 0.9 percent to 27,088.08 and the S&P 500 rose 6.84 points or 0.2 percent to 2,999.91, the tech-heavy Nasdaq edged down 6.49 points or 0.1 percent to 8,196.04.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside on Thursday. The French CAC 40 Index, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index all fell by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil futures turned weak after a solid start on Thursday, weighed down by a downward revision in demand forecast by OPEC. WTI crude for August ended down $0.23 or about 0.4 percent at $60.20 a barrel.

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