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Japanese Market Modestly Higher

The Japanese stock market is modestly higher on Monday in a volatile session following the positive cues from Wall Street Friday and higher commodity prices. However investor sentiment was dampened after data showed that the Japanese economy slipped into a recession in the first quarter.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 57.87 points or 0.29 percent to 20,095.34, after touching a low of 19,999.10 earlier. Japanese shares closed higher on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is adding more than 1 percent and Fast Retailing is up 0.4 percent.

The major exporters are mostly lower despite a slightly weaker yen. Sony is losing more than 2 percent, while Canon and Mitsubishi Electric are declining 0.6 percent each. Panasonic is advancing almost 2 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is losing almost 4 percent and Tokyo Electron is declining 3 percent, following their U.S. peers lower. Among automakers, Toyota is adding 0.5 percent and Honda is up 0.4 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is gaining more than 7 percent and Inpex is advancing more than 2 percent after crude oil prices rose almost 7 percent on Friday.

Among the other major gainers, M3 Inc. is gaining more than 9 percent, Nissan Chemical is rising more than 7 percent and Takara Holdings is higher by more than 5 percent.

On the flip side, Screen Holdings is falling almost 13 percent, Japan Post Holdings is losing more than 8 percent and Showa Denko is lower by almost 7 percent.

In economic news, the Cabinet Office said in Monday's preliminary report that Japan's gross domestic product shrank a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent on quarter in the first quarter of 2020. That exceeded expectations for a 1.2 percent drop following the 1.8 percent decline in the previous three months.

Japan is also scheduled to release March numbers for its tertiary industry index today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 107 yen-range on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher in a volatile session on Friday as traders shrugged off the release of some dismal U.S. economic data, including reports showing record decreases in retail sales and industrial production in the month of April. The Commerce Department said retail sales cratered by 16.4 percent in April after tumbling by a revised 8.3 percent in March. A separate report from the Federal Reserve showed industrial production plummeted by 11.2 percent in April after tumbling by a revised 4.5 percent in March.

After slumping by more than 270 points in early trading, the Dow rose 60.08 points or 0.3 percent to 23,685.42. The Nasdaq advanced 70.84 points or 0.8 percent to 9,014.56 and the S&P 500 climbed 11.20 points or 0.4 percent to 2,863.70.

The major European markets all moved to the upside on Friday. While the French CAC 40 Index inched up by 1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index jumped by 1 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures ended sharply higher on Friday, extending recent gains, amid hopes on some improvement in energy demand following reopening of businesses in several parts across the globe, and on hopes the output cuts from major producers will support prices. WTI crude futures for June ended up $1.87 or about 6.8 percent at $29.43 a barrel.

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