The Japanese stock market was trading higher on Friday following a late rally that boosted Wall Street overnight.
In early morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index was gaining 191.99 points or 2.19% to 8,947.25 and the broader Topix Index of all First Section Issues was advancing 15.45 points or 1.86% to 847.49.
U.S. stocks closed higher on Thursday after seeing some earlier uncertainty. Better-than-expected earnings results from finanical giant JPMorgan as well as economic data fed investors optimism, while expectations of better results from Google lifted technology stocks.
Crude oil prices finished another choppy session higher on Thursday. However, oil continued to fail to hold above $50 per barrel. Light sweet crude for May delivery ended at $49.98 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up $0.73 for the session.
The Japanese stock market closed in positive territory on Thursday with a modest gain, having reversed most of the gains in early trading following the release of first-quarter GDP numbers from China. The Nikkei 225 Index added 12.30 points, or 0.14%, to close at 8,755, while the Topix Index slipped 3.21 points or 0.38% to close at 832.
On the economic front, Japan's service sector output was down a seasonally adjusted 0.8% on month in February, posting an index score of 105.6, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Friday. That came in slightly lower than analyst expectations for a 0.7% monthly decline following the 0.4% gain in January, the revised 1.6% decline on month in December and the 1.1% fall in November.
Japan is also slated to release data on department store sales and consumer confidence for March later in the day. Consumer confidence is expected to post a score of 30 after coming in at 27.6 in February, while consumer confidence for households is projected at 29 after the 26.7 reading a month earlier. Nationwide department store sales were down 11.5% on year in February, while Tokyo department stores fell an annual 11.7%.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar was trading in the mid 99 yen-range on Friday. In early trades Tokyo, the dollar was quoted in a range of 99.54-99.58 yen, up 0.90 yen from Wednesday's close of 98.64-98.66 yen.
In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan's biggest bank, is gaining 2.18%, while Mizuho Financial is advancing 1.56% and Sumitomo Mitsui is rising 2.73%. Resona Holdings is easing 0.08%. Brokerage Nomura Holdings is up 2.58%.
Among exporters, Canon is gaining 3.18%, Sony is surging 3.89% and Sharp is adding 2.00%. Toshiba Corp. likely sustained a group operating loss of around 250 billion yen for the year March 31, compared to its existing estimate of a loss of 280 billion yen, the Nikkei business daily reported. The company's shares are up 4.40%. Automaker Toyota is advancing 2.70% and Honda is rising 2.41%.
In the oil sector, Inpex is adding 1.28%, Nippon Oil is rising 2.49% and Showa Shell is advancing 0.99%. Trading house Mitsubishi Corp. is gaining 2.39%, Sumitomo Corp. is advancing 2.54% and Itochu is adding 2.81%.
Wigmaker Aderans Holdings Co.'s board of directors on Thursday accepted an offer from investment fund Unison Capital Inc. to form a capital and business tie-up, seeing the partnership as a chance to swiftly rebuild its lackluster wig-fitting and hair-loss support businesses. However, shares of Aderans are currently down 2.68%.
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 3.01%.
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