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Japanese Market Modestly Higher

The Japanese stock market is modestly higher on Monday following the record closing highs on Wall Street Friday amid upbeat economic data from the U.S. and China.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 34.00 points or 0.14 percent to 24,075.26, after touching a high of 24,105.34 in early trades. Japanese stocks closed higher on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group Corp. is edging up 0.1 percent, while Fast Retailing is lower by more than 1 percent.

Among tech stocks, Advantest is higher by 0.7 percent and Tokyo Electron is adding 0.2 percent.

The major exporters are mixed on a stronger yen. Mitsubishi Electric is declining more than 1 percent and Panasonic is down 0.3 percent, while Sony is adding almost 1 percent and Canon is rising 0.4 percent.

Among auto stocks, Toyota Motor is advancing almost 1 percent and Honda Motor is adding 0.4 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is higher by 0.5 percent, while Japan Petroleum is declining 0.2 percent after crude oil prices ended flat on Friday.

Among the other major gainers, Cyberagent is rising more than 3 percent and Shinsei Bank is higher by more than 2 percent.

On the flip side, Sapporo Holdings is losing almost 3 percent and Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings is lower by more than 2 percent.

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

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 110 yen-range on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks gained modestly, but still closed at record highs on Friday after data showed that China's economy grew at the slowest pace since 1990, yet matched economist estimates. More upbeat U.S. economic data also generated buying interest, with a report from the Commerce Department showing a substantial increase in U.S. housing starts in the month of December.

The Dow edged up 50.46 points or 0.2 percent to 29,348.10, the Nasdaq rose 31.81 points or 0.3 percent to 9,388.94 and the S&P 500 climbed 12.81 points or 0.4 percent to 3,329.62.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Friday. While the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 0.9 percent and the German DAX Index climbed by 0.7 percent.

Crude oil futures failed to hold early gains and settled near the flat line on Friday, as traders weighed demand and supply position in the oil market. WTI crude futures ended at $58.54 a barrel, edging up $0.02 for the session.

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