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Japanese Market Significantly Higher

The Japanese stock market is significantly higher on Monday, extending the gains in the previous session, with the Nikkei 225 moving to just below the 26,900 level, following the broadly positive cues from global markets on Friday, with gains across most sectors, led by technology and financial stocks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is up 305.47 or 1.15 percent at 26,859.00, after touching a high of 26,885.99 earlier. Japanese shares ended notably higher on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining 1.5 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is also adding 1.5 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining almost 1 percent and Toyota is edging up 0.2 percent.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings is gaining almost 2 percent, Advantest is adding more than 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is advancing almost 3 percent. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is gaining almost 2 percent, while Mizuho Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial are adding more than 1 percent each.

The major exporters are mostly higher. Mitsubishi Electric is gaining almost 2 percent, Sony is adding almost 1 percent and Canon is edging up 0.2 percent. Panasonic is flat.

Among the other major gainers, NEXON, Taiyo Yuden and CyberAgent are gaining almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, there are no major losers.

In economic news, members of the Bank of Japan's Monetary Policy Board agreed that the country's economy has continued to pick up steam, minutes from the central bank's meeting on December 19 and 20 revealed on Monday.

At the meeting, the BoJ board members unanimously decided to maintain a negative interest rate of -0.1 percent on current accounts that financial institutions maintain at the central bank. They expanded its 10-year Japanese government bond yield target band, pushing the yen sharply higher and leading to a fall in government bonds.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 129 yen-range on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the trading session on Friday, regaining ground after posting steep losses for two straight days. Tech stocks helped lead the rebound, resulting in a particularly strong gain by the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

The major averages saw further upside going into the close, ending the session at their best levels of the day. While the Nasdaq spiked 288.17 points or 2.7 percent to 11,140.43, the S&P 500 surged 73.76 points or 1.9 percent to 3,972.61 and the Dow jumped 330.93 points or 1.0 percent to 33,375.49.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index advanced by 0.8 percent, the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.6 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged up by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil prices climbed higher on Friday amid optimism about the outlook for energy demand, as well as a drop from the greenback. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures for March, the most active contract, settled with a gain of $1.03 or 1.3 percent at $81.64 a barrel. WTI Crude oil futures contract for February ended up $0.98 or 1.2 percent at $81.31 a barrel on expiration day.

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