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Japanese Market Edges Higher

The Japanese stock market is edging higher on Wednesday following the overnight gains on Wall Street and the safe-haven yen strengthened as investors treaded cautiously ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision due later in the day.

Meanwhile, Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party leader Yoshihide Suga is poised to become the nation's new Prime Minister today, succeeding Shinzo Abe.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 15.92 points or 0.07 percent to 23,470.81 after touching a low of 23,397.43 earlier. Japanese stocks closed lower on Tuesday after three straight days of gains.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining more than 3 percent, while Fast Retailing is declining almost 1 percent.

The major exporters are mostly lower on a stronger yen. Canon is losing more than 2 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is declining almost 1 percent and Panasonic is down 0.3 percent, while Sony is adding 0.7 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is rising more than 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is up 0.4 percent. In the financial sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is losing more than 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is lower by almost 1 percent.

Among automakers, Honda is losing more than 2 percent and Toyota is down 0.5 percent. In the oil sector, Inpex is declining more than 1 percent, while Japan Petroleum is adding 0.4 percent.

Among the other major gainers, M3 is gaining more than 4 percent, while Cyberagent and Daiichi Sankyo are rising more than 3 percent each.

Conversely, J Front Retailing is losing more than 3 percent and Citizen Watch is lower by 3 percent. Shinsei Bank, Honda Motor, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings and Credit Saison are all declining almost 3 percent each.

In economic news, the Ministry of Finance said that Japan had a merchandise trade surplus of 248.299 billion yen in August. That was well above expectations for a deficit of 37.5 billion yen following the 11.6 billion yen surplus in July.

Exports were down 14.8 percent on year to 5.232 trillion yen, beating forecasts for a fall of 16.1 percent after sinking 19.2 percent in the previous month. Imports tumbled an annual 20.8 percent to 4.984 trillion yen versus expectations for a fall of 18.0 percent following the 22.3 percent decline a month earlier.

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

On Wall Street, stocks moved higher during trading on Tuesday, although the Dow gave back early gains to end the session nearly unchanged. A continued rebound by technology stocks contributed to higher close on Wall Street, with big-name companies like Tesla, Netflix, Oracle and Facebook posting standout gains. Nonetheless, overall trading activity appeared somewhat subdued ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement on Wednesday.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped 133.67 points or 1.2 percent to 11,190.32 and the S&P 500 climbed 17.66 points or 0.5 percent to 3,401.20, while the Dow inched up just 2.27 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 27,995.60 after rising by nearly 240 points in early trading.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on Tuesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index surged up by 1.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index rose by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures ended sharply higher on Tuesday as news about the stoppage of energy operations in the Gulf of Mexico due to Hurricane Sally outweighed concerns about the outlook for energy demand. WTI crude for October ended up $1.02 or about 2.7% at $38.28 a barrel.

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