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Japanese Market Modestly Higher

The Japanese stock market is modestly higher on Thursday following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street after the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged and reiterated its commitment to use its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, news that the total number of coronavirus cases in Japan surged past the 1,000 mark for the first time on Wednesday dampened sentiment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 47.16 points or 0.21 percent to 22,444.27, after rising to a high of 22,506.60 in early trades. Japanese shares fell sharply on Wednesday to extend losses for a fourth straight session.

The major exporters are mostly higher on a weaker yen. Canon is rising more than 2 percent, Panasonic is adding 0.4 percent and Sony is up 0.3 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is declining 0.5 percent.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is advancing almost 2 percent and Fast Retailing is adding 0.3 percent. In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is up 0.2 percent, while Advantest is lower by more than 1 percent.

In the financial sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is losing more than 1 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by 0.6 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is adding almost 1 percent and Honda is up 0.3 percent.

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

Japanese airline ANA Holdings is lower by almost 1 percent after reporting a quarterly loss of $1 billion, while sales fell more than 75 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Nomura Holdings is rising more than 4 percent on upbeat first-quarter results, while Suzuki Motor and Taiyo Yuden are higher by more than 3 percent each.

Conversely, Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings is falling almost 7 percent, Tokyo Gas is losing more than 6 percent and Kao Corp. is lower by more than 5 percent.

In economic news, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said that retail sales in Japan were down 1.2 percent on year in June. That beat forecasts for a decline of 6.5 percent following the 12.3 percent drop in May.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 105 yen-range on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Wednesday with early buying interest generated as several big-name companies reported better than expected quarterly results. Stocks saw continued strength after the Federal Reserve announced its widely expected decision to leave interest rates at near-zero levels amid the economic hardship imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. The Fed also reiterated that it remains committed to using its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time.

The Dow climbed 160.29 points or 0.6 percent to 26,539.57, while the Nasdaq surged up 140.85 points or 1.4 percent to 10,542.94 and the S&P 500 jumped 40.00 points or 1.2 percent to 3,258.44.

The major European markets closed mixed on Wednesday. While the German DAX Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index closed just above the unchanged line and the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.6 percent.

Crude oil prices moved higher on Wednesday after official data showed a much larger than expected decline in U.S. crude inventories in the week ended July 24. WTI crude for September added $0.23 or about 0.6 percent to $41.27 a barrel.

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