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Japanese Market Pares Gains

The Japanese stock market is modestly higher on Thursday, paring early gains following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street amid concerns about inflation and as a stronger yen weighed on exporters' shares.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 45.13 points or 0.15 percent to 30,337.32, after touching a high of 30,560.49 in early trades. Japanese shares closed lower on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is advancing almost 1 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is rising more than 4 percent. Among automakers, Honda and Toyota are declining more than 1 percent each.

In the tech space, Advantest is losing more than 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is lower by almost 1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is declining almost 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down more than 1 percent.

The major exporters are lower on a stronger yen. Mitsubishi Electric is sliding almost 3 percent, Canon is losing almost 2 percent, Panasonic is declining more than 1 percent and Sony is down 0.5 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Chugai Pharmaceutical is rising almost 3 percent, while Takara Holdings, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, Kikkoman Corp. and Nippon Electric Glass are all higher by more than 2 percent each.

Conversely, Screen Holdings is losing more than 5 percent and Mazda Motor is lower by almost 5 percent. IHI Corp., Trend Micro, Kobe Steel, Hino Motors and Mitsui E&S Holdings are all declining more than 4 percent each.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Wednesday after seeing early weakness following the release of a batch of largely upbeat U.S. economic data, which painted a positive picture of the economy but also added to recent inflation concerns. Selling pressure waned over the course of the session, however, as traders remained optimistic about more stimulus and an easing of the coronavirus crisis. The minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy meeting also signaled the central bank is likely to leave policy unchanged for the foreseeable future, offsetting concerns about the impact of inflation.

The Dow closed higher for the tenth time in the past twelve sessions, rising 90.27 points or 0.3 percent to 31,613.02. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq fell 82.00 points or 0.6 percent to 13,965.50 and the S&P 500 edged down 1.26 points or less than tenth of a percent to 3,931.33.

The major European markets all moved to the downside on Wednesday. While the German DAX Index slumped by 1.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.6 percent and the French CAC 40 Index dipped by 0.4 percent.

Crude oil futures ended sharply higher on Wednesday amid rising concerns over likely disruptions in supply due to severe cold weather in Texas. WTI crude oil for March delivery jumped $1.09 or about 1.8 percent to $61.14 a barrel.

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