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Japanese Market Modestly Higher

The Japanese stock market is modestly higher on Friday following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street amid easing U.S.-Iran tensions. Investor sentiment was also boosted after China confirmed its top trade official will head to Washington next week to sign the phase one trade deal with the U.S.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 68.80 points or 0.29 percent to 23,808.67, after rising to a high of 23,903.29 earlier. Japanese stocks closed notably higher on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group Corp. is advancing 1 percent, while Fast Retailing is losing 2 percent after reporting weaker than expected first-quarter results and lowering its full-year outlook.

Among tech stocks, Tokyo Electron and Advantest are rising more than 1 percent each.
iPhone maker Apple's supplier Murata Manufacturing is up 0.3 percent and Alps Alpine is adding 0.4 percent after Chinese government data showed strong iPhone sales in China in December.

The major exporters are higher on a weaker yen. Sony is advancing more than 1 percent, while Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric are adding 0.3 percent each. Canon is down 0.4 percent.

Among auto stocks, Honda Motor is adding 0.7 percent, while Toyota Motor is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is declining almost 1 percent, while Japan Petroleum is adding 0.5 percent after crude oil prices edged lower overnight.

Among the major gainers, IHI Corp. is rising more than 4 percent, Seven & I is higher by almost 4 percent and FamilyMart is advancing more than 2 percent ahead of the release of its third-quarter results today.

On the flip side, Cyberagent and Chubu Electric Power are losing more than 2 percent each.

In economic news, Japan will see preliminary November numbers for its leading and coincident indexes as well as November figures for household spending today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 109 yen-range on Friday.
On Wall Street, stocks closed at record highs on Thursday on easing concerns about the conflict between the U.S. and Iran amid signs of de-escalation. Nonetheless, overall trading activity was somewhat subdued ahead of the release of the Labor Department's monthly jobs report on Friday.

The Dow climbed 211.81 points or 0.7 percent to 28,956.90, the Nasdaq advanced 74.18 points or 0.8 percent to 9,203.43 and the S&P 500 rose 21.65 points or 0.7 percent to 3,274.70.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Thursday. While the German DAX Index jumped by 1.3 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled near four-week lows on Thursday, as higher U.S. crude inventories and easing worries about the U.S.-Iran standoff pushed down prices for a second straight session. WTI crude for February ended down $0.05 or 0.03 percent at $59.56 a barrel.

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