RTTNews - The Japanese stock market opened higher on Friday, tracking the strong finish overnight on Wall Street. The market has pared most of its gains subsequently, but is still trading in positive territory.

In late morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 30.2 points or 0.31% to 9,826.28 and the broader Topix Index of all First Section Issues is gaining 3.27 points or 0.36% to 923.04.

U.S. stocks closed higher on Thursday, thanks in part to strong demand for the Treasury Department's latest bond auction. Following a disappointing start on the heels of disheartening employment data, stocks staged a substantial recovery. The major averages all finished the day firmly in positive territory, with the Dow snapping a four session losing streak.

Crude oil prices rose again in trading on Thursday amid more violence in Nigeria. Light sweet crude for August delivery climbed to US$70.23 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up US$1.56 on the session. Oil reached as high as $70.93 in mid-day trading.

The Japanese market posted broad advances on Thursday. The Nikkei 225 index gained 205.76 points or 2.15% to close at 9,796.08.

On the economic front, consumer prices in Japan contracted at the fastest pace on record in May. Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications reported Friday that the overall Consumer Price Index fell by 1.1% in May, and Core CPI, which excludes volatile fresh food prices, also fell 1.1%. Falling energy prices and lower employment led to the lower price readings. For the Tokyo Metropolitan area, which is seen as a leading indicator for the national picture, overall CPI for June contracted 1.5%, while Tokyo Core CPI was down 1.3%.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 95 yen-range on Friday. In mid-morning trades, the dollar was trading in a range of 95.84-95.86 yen, down 0.50 yen from Thursday's close of 96.34-96.36 yen in Tokyo.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ is trading in positive territory, while Resona Holdings and Mizuho Financial are trading modestly lower. Shinsei bank is also trading lower by more than 1%. Shares of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are unchanged. Brokerage Nomura Holdings is trading higher by more than 1%.

In the tech space, Advantest and Kyocera are trading higher, while Tokyo Electron is unchanged. Among export-oriented stocks, Canon and Komatsu are trading higher by 0.5%-1%, while Sharp is trading lower by almost 1%.

Among auto stocks, Honda and Mazda are trading modestly lower, while Toyota is trading lower by more than 2%. Nissan is up almost 2%. Shares of Suzuki rose more than 6% after a report said that Volkswagen AG is considering taking a stake or around 10% in the company, as part of a planned cooperation between the two automakers.

In the oil sector, Inpex is gaining more than 1% and Nippon Oil is up almost 4% after the Yomiuri Shimbun reported that a group of three Japanese companies, including Nippon Oil and Inpex, is in the final stage of talks with Iraq to acquire a development interest in the Nassiriya oil field in that country. Meanwhile, shares of Showa Shell are trading lower.

Among trading houses, Mitsubishi Corp is down 1%, while Mitsui & Co. and Itochu are trading marginally higher.

Tire maker Bridgestone had said Thursday that it will likely post a group net loss of 46 billion yen in the six months through June 2009, comapred to the previously expected loss of 62 billion yen. The company also said it will probably break even in the full year through December. Shares of the company are currently up more than 6%.

Kirin Holdings said on Thursday it has sold its 3.7% stake in France's Pernod Ricard for about 378 million euros, or US$528.2 million. However, the company's stock is down almost 1%.

Fujitsu America said it won an outsourcing contract from U.S. data-processing firm Alliance Data Systems Inc with an annual value of more than $40 million. The deal is the first of its kind for Fujitsu in the world's biggest market for information technology services. Shares of the company are up more than 2%.

Shares of convenience store operator Lawson are gaining more than 2% after the Nikkei business daily reported that the company likely posted a group pretax profit of about 12 billion yen in the March-May quarter, up 3% year on year.

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