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Japanese Market Slightly Higher

The Japanese stock market is slightly higher on Friday after being in the red at open, following the sharp losses in the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 staying above the 26,400 level, despite the broadly negative cues from global markets overnight, as the expected weak domestic inflation figures was already been accounted for.

The country's annual core inflation rate hit a fresh 41-year high of 4 percent in December, well above the central bank's 2 percent target for the ninth straight month.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 6.53 points or 0.02 percent to 26,411.76, after touching a high of 26,431.13 and a low of 26,320.96 earlier. Japanese stocks closed sharply lower on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing almost 1 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is edging down 0.2 percent, while Toyota is edging up 0.1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is gaining almost 1 percent, while Screen Holdings is edging down 0.22 percent. Tokyo Electron is flat.

In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial is edging up 0.3 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are flat.

Among major exporters, Canon and Panasonic are edging down 0.1 to 0.2 percent each, while Sony is declining more than 1 percent. Mitsubishi Electric is edging up 0.5 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Taisei is gaining more than 4 percent, while Shimizu, Kajima and AGC are adding more than 3 percent.

Conversely, there are no other major losers.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 128 yen-range on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks saw further downside during trading on Thursday after ending the previous session sharply lower. The major averages fluctuated after coming under pressure in early trading but remained stuck in the red.

The major averages all finished the day firmly in negative territory. The Dow slid 252.40 points or 0.8 percent to 33,044.56, the Nasdaq slumped 104.74 points or 1.0 percent to 10,852.27 and the S&P 500 fell 30.01 points or 0.8 percent to 3,898.85.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slumped 1.1 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index plunged by 1.7 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled higher on Thursday as hopes about higher demand from China outweighed data showing a jump in U.S. crude inventories in the week ended January 13. The West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for February ended higher by $0.85 or about 1.1 percent at $80.33 a barrel.

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