The stock market in Japan ended in positive territory on Friday following Wall Street, where the major indices posted gains led by financial and technology related stocks on expectations that the world's largest economy will begin to recover earlier-than-expected. A slew of economic reports released in the U.S reaffirmed the notion that the pace of economic slowdown has slowed down.
On Thursday, the Dow closed up 95.81 points or 1.2% at 8,125, the Nasdaq closed up 43.64 points or 2.7% at 1,670 and the S&P 500 closed up 13.24 points or 1.6% at 865.
In Asian trading, crude oil ended down $0.23 at $49.75 a barrel in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery ended at $49.98 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up $0.73 for the session, amid choppy trading.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index added 152.32 points or 1.70% to 8,908 and the broader Topix Index of all First Section Issues advanced 13.53 points or 1.60% to 846.
On the economic front, Japan's service sector output was down a seasonally adjusted 0.8% month-over-month in February, posting an index score of 105.6, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Friday. The decline was worse than the 0.7% drop expected by economists and follows a 0.4% gain in January, a revised 1.6% decline in December and a 1.1% fall in November.
In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan's biggest bank, gained 1.58%, Mizuho Financial advanced 2.60%, Sumitomo Mitsui rose 3.75%, and Resona Holdings added 1.52%. Brokerage Nomura Holdings surged 4.30%.
Among exporters, Canon gained 1.84%, Sony surged up 5.93% and Sharp soared 9.00%. Toshiba Corp reported an operating loss of around 250 billion yen for the year March 31 compared to its previous estimate of a loss of 280 billion yen. The company's shares ended higher by 4.40%. Automaker Toyota advanced 2.96% and Honda Motor gained 4.63%.
Oil-related stocks ended mixed. While Inpex slipped 0.71% and Showa Shell shed 0.77%, Nippon Oil bucked the trend and ended higher by 0.77%. Trading house Mitsubishi Corp. gained 2.27%, Sumitomo Corp. advanced 2.65% and Itochu Corp rose 2.28%.
Retailer Aeon Co. has set up a line of credit totaling 200 billion yen with several financial institutions, expanding its sources of funds amid capital market instability. The company also refinanced 175.4 billion yen in loans that had been due in the fiscal year ended February 28. The company's shares are gaining 2.88%.
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