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Japanese Market Pares Early Gains

The Japanese stock market opened sharply higher on Friday following the overnight gains on Wall Street after the U.S. Senate finally voted to approve a massive $2 trillion stimulus package in response to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the market has pared strong gains and is now up 1 percent.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is advancing 278.29 1.49 18942.89, after touching a high of 19,366.29 in early trades. Japanese stocks closed sharply lower on Thursday.

Meanwhile, market heavyweight SoftBank is adding 0.3 percent and Fast Retailing is advancing almost 1 percent.

The major exporters are higher despite a stronger yen. Mitsubishi Electric is higher by more than 3 percent, Sony is gaining almost 3 percent, Panasonic is rising more than 2 percent and Canon is adding 0.2 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is higher by more than 4 percent and Tokyo Electron is advancing almost 4 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is up 0.2 percent, while Japan Petroleum is declining 0.2 percent after crude oil prices tumbled overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Cyberagent and Ricoh are gaining more than 7 percent each, while Tokyo Gas and Hino Motors are rising almost 7 percent each.

In economic news, the Ministry of Communications and Internal Affairs said that overall consumer prices in the Tokyo region of Japan were up 0.4 percent on year in March. That exceeded expectations for an increase of 0.3 percent and was unchanged from the February reading.

Core CPI, which excludes volatile food prices, also advanced an annual 0.4 percent. That was in line with expectations and down from 0.5 percent in the previous month.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply higher on Thursday even though the Labor Department released a report before the start of trading showing first-time claims for unemployment benefits soared to 3.28 million last week from 282,000 in the prior week, as large swaths of the U.S. economy were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Any negative sentiment seemed to have been offset by news that the Senate finally voted to approve a massive $2 trillion stimulus package in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow spiked 1,351.62 points or 6.4 percent to 22,552.17, the Nasdaq soared 413.24 points or 5.6 percent to 7,797.54 and the S&P 500 skyrocketed 154.51 points or 6.2 percent to 2,630.07.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned positive over the course of the session 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 surged up by 2.2 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices declined sharply and closed lower on Thursday for the first time in four sessions, as concerns about outlook for energy demand weighed on the commodity. WTI crude for May ended down $1.89 or about 7.7 percent at $22.60 a barrel.

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