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Japanese Market Advances

The Japanese stock market is advancing on Thursday after two days of losses while the safe-haven yen weakened following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street as renewed optimism about a phase one trade deal between the U.S. and China helped offset negative sentiment generated by some disappointing U.S. economic data.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 173.79 points or 0.75 percent to 23,309.02, after rising to a high of 23,363.44 earlier. Japanese shares hit two-week lows on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group and Fast Retailing are advancing more than 1 percent each.

The major exporters are higher as the yen weakened. Mitsubishi Electric is rising 1 percent, Panasonic is advancing almost 1 percent, Sony is adding 0.5 percent and Canon is up 0.2 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is higher by more than 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is up 0.3 percent. Among auto stocks, Honda Motor is advancing more than 1 percent, while Toyota Motor is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is gaining more than 4 percent and Inpex is rising more than 2 percent after crude oil prices jumped overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Nippon Steel is gaining almost 5 percent, Unitika is higher by more than 4 percent and JFE Holdings is rising more than 3 percent.

On the flip side, Shiseido Co. is losing more than 2 percent.

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

On Wall Street, stocks regained some ground on Wednesday after a report from Bloomberg News indicated the U.S. and China are moving closer to agreeing on the amount of tariffs that would be rolled back in a phase one trade deal. Citing people familiar with the talks, Bloomberg said U.S. negotiators expect a phase one deal to be completed before U.S. tariffs are set to rise on December 15. The optimism about a trade deal helped offset negative sentiment generated by some disappointing economic data, including a report from payroll processor ADP showing much weaker than expected private sector job growth in the month of November.

The Dow climbed 146.97 points or 0.5 percent to 27,649.78, the Nasdaq rose 46.03 points or 0.5 percent to 8,566.67 and the S&P 500 advanced 19.56 points or 0.6 percent to 3,112.76.

The major European markets also moved mostly higher on Wednesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.4 percent. The German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 1.2 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices showed a substantial move to the upside during trading on Wednesday as traders looked ahead to the start of OPEC's biannual meeting in Vienna on Thursday and after a report from the Energy Information Administration showed a steeper than expected weekly drop in crude oil inventories. WTI crude for January delivery spiked $2.33 or 4.2 percent to $58.43 a barrel.

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