Japanese Market Sharply Higher

The Japanese stock market is trading sharply higher on Friday, snapping a losing streak of five sessions, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 below the 26,700 level at a 14-month low, despite the negative cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders picked up stocks at a bargain following the recent sell-off.

Meanwhile, trades also remain concerned about the sharp spike in domestic new coronavirus infections, with daily new COVID-19 cases in Japan surging to a new record of 78,929 cases on Thursday, topping the 70,000 mark for the second day in a row to push hospitals and clinics to the breaking point. The daily new cases also hit record highs each day since last week.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 508.27 points or 1.94 percent to 26,678.57, after touching a high of 26,731.02 earlier. Japanese shares closed sharply lower on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging down 0.3 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is gaining more than 2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining 1.5 percent and Toyota is adding more than 3 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is gaining almost 2 percent, while Screen Holdings is losing more than 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is edging down 0.5 percent.

In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are gaining 1.5 percent each, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is losing almost 2 percent.

Among major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric is gaining more than 1 percent, Panasonic is adding more than 2 percent and Sony is adding almost 3 percent, while Canon is declining almost 3 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Fuji Electric is soaring almost 9 percent, Shin-Etsu Chemical is surging more than 7 percent and Fujikura is rising almost 7 percent, while Nitto Denko and Chugai Pharmaceutical are gaining almost 5 percent each. Idemitsu Kosan, Daiichi Sankyo, Marui Group, NSK and Citizen Watch are all adding almost 4 percent each, while Sumitomo Metal Mining, Asahi Kasei, Recruit Holdings and Nissan Chemical are advancing more than 3 percent each.

Conversely, Fujitsu is plunging almost 10 percent, while Nisshin Seifun Group, Otsuka Holdings and NEC are losing almost 3 percent each.

In economic news, consumer prices in the Tokyo region of Japan were up 0.5 percent on year in January, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said on Friday. That was shy of expectations for an increase of 0.6 percent and was down from 0.8 percent in December. On a monthly basis, inflation was up 0.3 percent. Core CPI, which excludes volatile food prices, was up an annual 0.2 percent - also missing forecasts for an increase of 0.3 percent and down from 0.5 percent in the previous month.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 115 yen-range on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a substantial downturn over the course of the trading day on Thursday after moving sharply higher early in the session. The volatility on the day extended the rollercoaster ride the major averages have been on throughout the week.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped as much as 1.7 percent in early trading but ended the day down 189.34 points or 1.4 percent at 13,352.78. The S&P 500 also slid 23.42 points or 0.5 percent to 4,326.51 after surging as much as 1.8 percent. The narrower Dow posted a more modest loss, edging down 7.31 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 34,160.78.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the upside after seeing early weakness. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 1.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index rose by 0.6 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices retreated Thursday as the dollar climbed after the Fed signaled that it would start raising interest rates in March. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for March ended lower by $0.74 or 0.9 percent at $86.61 a barrel.

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