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Japanese Market Declines In Choppy Trade

The Japanese stock market is declining on Friday in choppy trading while the safe-haven yen strengthened following the overnight losses on Wall Street and on worries about rising U.S.-China tensions.

In an emergency policy meeting, the Bank of Japan said it has decided to launch a new lending facility for small and midsize businesses that are suffering due to the coronavirus pandemic. The BoJ left its benchmark lending rate unchanged at -0.1 percent.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 33.88 points or 0.16 percent to 20,518.43, after touching a high of 20,615.12 in early trades. Japanese shares closed lower on Thursday after four straight days of gains.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is rising more than 3 percent and Fast Retailing is advancing almost 1 percent.

SoftBank Group plans to raise up to 313 billion yen, or $2.9 billion, by selling a 5 percent stake in its Japanese wireless subsidiary SoftBank Corp., as part of efforts to strengthen its balance sheet.

The major exporters are mixed on a stronger yen. Sony is rising more than 1 percent and Panasonic is adding almost 1 percent, while Canon is declining more than 2 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is down 0.2 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is adding almost 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is up 0.3 percent. Among automakers, Honda Motor is lower by 0.4 percent, while Toyota is rising 0.2 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is lower by more than 2 percent and Inpex is declining more than 1 percent even as crude oil prices rose overnight.

Among the other major gainers, ANA Holdings is rising almost 3 percent, while Chughai Pharmaecutical, Fujitsu and Kansai Electric Power are all higher by almost 2 percent each.

In economic news, consumer prices in Japan were up just 0.1 percent on year in April, matching forecasts and slowing from the 0.4 percent increase in March. Core consumer prices, which exclude volatile food costs, fell an annual 0.2 percent on year versus expectations for a flat reading following the 0.4 percent gain in the previous month.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Thursday, partly due to profit taking, as some traders cashed in on the strong gains posted on Monday and Wednesday. Traders were also reacting to a Labor Department report showing initial jobless claims pulled back further off their record high but remain at an elevated level. Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors released a report showing another steep drop in U.S. existing home sales in the month of April.

The Dow fell 101.78 points or 0.4 percent to 24,474.12, the Nasdaq slumped 90.90 points or 1 percent to 9,284.88 and the S&P 500 slid 23.10 points or 0.8 percent to 2,948.51.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Thursday. The German DAX Index tumbled by 1.4 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index slumped by 1.2 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.9 percent.

Crude oil prices moved higher on Thursday, extending recent gains, amid continued optimism about a pick-up in energy demand, and falling supply levels in the market. WTI crude rose $0.43 or about 1.3 percent at $33.92 a barrel.

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