RTTNews - After opening higher on strong cues from Wall Street and better than expected industrial output data, the Japanese market has drifted lower on Friday with profit taking and a weakening of the U.S. dollar's appreciation taking the wind out of some top-notch stocks.

The Nikkei, which opened at 9,478 and edged up to 9,490 in early trading this morning but fell to 9,442 subsequently, is currently up 2.30 points at 9,454. On Thursday, the Nikkei had bounced back after early weakness and settled at 9,451, gaining 12.62 points.

Japan's industrial output jumped 5.2 percent in April from the previous month, marking the second straight month of increase as companies continue to restock after a heavy run-down of inventories late last year.

Unemployment rate rose to 5.0% in April from 4.8% in March, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said Friday. The figure broke above the 5% level for the first time since the 5.1% figure logged in November 2003. The number of jobless rose by 710,000 year-on-year to 3.46 million, marking the sixth straight monthly increase, with the figure for men increasing 0.4 percentage point to 5.3% and that for women shrinking 0.1 percentage point to 4.6%.

And, according to a release from the Internal Ministry, Japan's core consumer price index slipped 0.1% year on year to 100.7 in April.

Construction stocks are trading mostly lower. Foods, chemicals and textiles are exhibiting a mixed trend. Pharmaceuticals stocks Eisai, Daiichi Sankyo, Shionogi and Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma are trading higher. Among oil stocks, Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. and Nippon Mining Holdings are trading higher, while Nippon Oil is exhibiting weakness.

Automobile stocks are mostly trading higher. Toyota Motor, Suzuki Motor, Isuzu Motors, Hino Motors, Mazda Motor, Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors are all trading firm.

In the banking space, Chiba Bank, Fukuoka Financial Group, Shensei Bank and Bank of Yokohama are trading higher, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Resona Holdings, Shizuoka Bank and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial are exhibiting weakness.

Non-ferrous metals, machinery and insurance stocks are mostly trading firm.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 96-yen range early Friday in Tokyo, little changed from its levels in New York overnight. Currently, the yen is trading at 96.38 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore are trading higher.

Stocks markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Thursday, although the markets in Hong Kong and mainland China were closed.

On Wall Street, bolstered by the results of the $26.0 billion seven-year note auction conducted by the Treasury Department, stocks rebounded on Thursday. Earlier, a slower than expected pace of new home sales for April had resulted in some uncertain movements.

Crude oil settled above US$65 per barrel for the first time since November on Thursday after an Energy Information report showed a larger-than-expected decline in weekly inventories.

The Dow closed up 103.78 points or 1.3 percent at 8,403.80, the Nasdaq closed up 20.71 points or 1.2 percent at 1,751.79 and the S&P 500 closed up 13.77 points or 1.5 percent at 906.83.

Major European markets all closed firmly in negative territory. The French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index fell 1.0 and 1.4 percent, respectively, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index also closed down 0.7 percent.

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