Japanese Market Sharply Higher

The Japanese stock market is sharply higher on Thursday, extending the gains in the previous session, with the Nikkei 225 moving above the 28,400 level, following the broadly positive cues from global markets overnight, with strength in technology and financial stocks lifting the market. Traders reacted positively to the minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy meeting, which suggested slowing the pace of its interest rate hikes.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is up 339.64 points or 1.21 percent to 28,455.38, after touching a high of 28,502.29 earlier. Japanese stocks closed significantly higher on Tuesday prior to the public holiday on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is flat and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is up almost 1 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is edging down 0.2 percent, while Honda is edging up 0.2 percent.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings and Tokyo Electron are gaining almost 4 percent each, while Advantest is advancing more than 4 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is gaining more than 2 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mizuho Financial are advancing almost 3 percent each.

Among the major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric and Sony are gaining almost 2 percent each, while Panasonic and Canon are edging down 0.4 to 0.5 percent each.

Among the other major gainers, CyberAgent is surging more than 6 percent and Nippon Yusen K.K. is gaining more than 5 percent, while NEXON and M3 are gaining more than 4 percent. Z Holdings, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Hitachi Zosen are advancing almost 4 percent each, while Eisai, Konami Group, Mitsui & Co., Keyence and Minebea Mitsumi are adding more than 3 percent each.

Conversely, there are no other major losers.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 138 yen-range on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Wednesday before eventually closing mostly higher. The major averages added to the strong gains posted on Tuesday, with the Dow reaching a seven-month closing high.

The major averages all finished the day in positive territory, led by the tech-heavy Nasdaq. While the Nasdaq jumped 110.91 points or 1.0 percent to 11,285.32, the S&P 500 climbed 23.68 points or 0.6 percent to 4,027.26 and the Dow rose 95.96 points or 0.3 percent to 34,194.06.

The major European markets also showed modest moves to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index closed just above the unchanged line, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index edged up by 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices fell sharply on Wednesday, weighed down by news that the Group of Seven nations has considered a price cap on Russian oil and data showing a bigger than expected jump in U.S. gasoline stockpiles last week. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for December ended down $3.01 or about 3.7% at $77.94 a barrel.

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