Japanese Market Slightly Higher

The Japanese stock market is slightly higher in choppy trading on Thursday, recouping some of the sharp losses in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 staying above the 27,500 level, despite the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders picked up stocks at a bargain after the recent selloff amid the raging spread of the coronavirus omicron variant in the country, with new daily cases breaching the 40,000 mark for the first time on Wednesday.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 53.69 points or 0.20 percent to 27,520.92, after touching a high of 27,726.52 and a low of 27,217.59 earlier. Japanese shares ended sharply lower on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging down 0.3 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging up 0.3 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is adding more than 1 percent, while Honda is edging down 0.5 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest and Tokyo Electron are losing almost 2 percent each, while Screen Holdings is declining almost 3 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is losing almost 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging down 0.3 percent, while Mizuho Financial is flat.

The major exporters are lower. Sony is gaining almost 4 percent and Canon is adding almost 1 percent, while Panasonic is losing more than 1 percent. Mitsubishi Electric is flat.

Among the other major gainers, Konami Holdings is gaining more than 5 percent, while Isetan Mitsukoshi and Ricoh are adding almost 4 percent each. Nexon, Itochu, Olympus and Unitika are advancing more than 3 percent each.

Conversely, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha is plunging almost 10 percent and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines is sliding more than 9 percent, Nippon Yusen K.K. is losing almost 6 percent and T&D Holdings is down almost 4 percent, while Dai-ichi Life, Taiyo Yuden and Subaru are declining almost 3 percent each.

In economic news, Japan posted a merchandise trade deficit of 582.2 billion yen in December, the Ministry of Finance said on Thursday. That beat forecasts for a shortfall of 784.1 billion yen following the downwardly revised deficit of 955.6 billion yen in November (originally -954.8 billion yen). Exports climbed 17.5 percent on year, exceeding expectation for a gain of 16.0 percent following the 20.5 percent increase in the previous month. Imports were up 41.1 percent on year versus expectations for 42.8 percent and down from 43.8 percent a month earlier. For all of 2021, imports rose 24.3 percent and exports gained 21.5 percent for a trade deficit of 1.472 trillion yen.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 114 yen-range on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks were unable to hold on to early gains on Wednesday, bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line before finishing in the red for the second straight session.

For the day, the Dow tumbled 339.82 points or 0.96 percent to finish at 35,028.65, while the NASDAQ dropped 166.64 points or 1.15 percent to close at 14,340.25 and the S&P 500 sank 44.35 points or 0.97 percent to end at 4.532.76.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved higher on the day. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index added 0.35 percent, while the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.24 percent and 0.55 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices continued their recent upward surge on Wednesday, rising for the fifth straight day to a fresh seven-year high following supply issues in the Middle East. West Texas Intermediate for February contract jumped $1.22 or 1.43 percent to $86.65 per barrel.

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