Japanese Market Sharply Lower

The Japanese stock market is trading sharply lower on Friday, extending the sharp losses in the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 staying above the 27,900 level, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, with weakness across most sectors, particularly technology stocks.

Traders remain concerned and cautious as daily new COVID-19 cases continues to exceed the 10,000 mark spurred by the fast-spreading coronavirus omicron variant.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 554.68 points or 1.95 percent to 27,934.45, after hitting a low of 27,915.60 earlier. Japanese shares closed significantly lower on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing more than 2 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is surging more than 7 percent after posting a record first-quarter profit. Among automakers, Honda is losing almost 2 percent and Toyota is down more than 1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is losing almost 3 percent, Tokyo Electron is edging down 0.5 percent and Screen Holdings is declining almost 2 percent.

In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial is edging down 0.6 percent, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is losing almost 1 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down more than 1 percent.

Among major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric and Panasonic are losing almost 1.5 percent each, while Canon is down more than 1 percent and Sony is declining almost 3 percent.

Among the other major losers, Hitachi Construction Machinery is plunging 17 percent, while Toyota Tsusho and Recruit Holdings are losing more than 6 percent each. Yokogawa Electric, M3, Taiyo Yuden and Olympus are declining more than 5 percent each, while Murata Manufacturing, Nissan Chemical and Tokyo Tatemono are slipping almost 5 percent each. Bandai Namco Holdings, Mitsui Chemicals, Fanuc, Yokohama Rubber and Mitsui Fudosan are down more than 4 percent each.

Conversely, Seven & I Holdings is gaining 4.5 percent.

In economic news, producer prices in Japan were down 0.2 percent on month in December, the Bank of Japan said on Friday. That missed expectations for an increase of 0.3 percent and was down from the upwardly revised 0.7 percent in November (originally 0.6 percent). On a yearly basis, producer prices climbed 8.5 percent - again missing forecasts for a gain of 8.8 percent and down from the upwardly revised 9.2 percent in the previous month (originally 9.0 percent). Export prices were down 0.8 percent on month and up 13.5 percent on year last month, the bank said, while import prices fell 0.4 percent on month and skyrocketed 41.9 percent on year.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 113 yen-range on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a significant move back to the downside during trading on Thursday with tech stocks leading the way lower. The tech-heavy Nasdaq showed a particularly steep drop, ending the day at its lowest closing level in three months.

The major averages saw further downside going into the close, ending the session near their worst levels of the day. The Nasdaq plunged 381.58 points or 2.5 percent to 14,806.81, the S&P 500 tumbled 67.32 points or 1.4 percent to 4,659.03 and the Dow fell 176.70 points or 0.5 percent to 36,113.62.

Meanwhile, the major European markets ended the day mixed. While the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.5 percent, the German DAX Index crept up by 0.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged up by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil prices gave ground on Thursday as investors cashed in on recent gains that led to a two-month closing high. West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery slid $0.52 or 0.6 percent to $82.12 a barrel after jumping $1.42 or 1.7 percent to $82.64 a barrel in the previous session.

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