RTTNews - Stocks drifted lower in early trading in the Japanese market on Monday as investors chose to tread cautiously following the decline in oil and commodity prices. However, with the yen weakening to the mid-98 level against the dollar, automobile stocks found some support in opening trades.

The benchmark index Nikkei opened slightly down at 10,126.55 and dropped down to 10,066.48 subsequently due to fairly heavy selling in technology and oil stocks. Currently, the Nikkei is down by 52 points or 0.52% at 10,084.

Automobile stocks Toyota Motor, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan Motor and Isuzu Motors are trading higher. In the banking space, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Resona Holdings, Shizuoka Bank, Fukuoka Financial Group and Chiba Bank are down in the red, while Mizhuo Trust & Banking, Chuo Mitsui Trust Holdings and Mizuho Financial Group are trading modestly higher.

Advantest Corp., TDK Corp. and a few other technology stocks are exhibiting weakness following a modest decline in the Nasdaq index.

Construction, healthcare and foods stocks are trading mixed. Select steel, machinery and electric machinery stocks are displaying some strength. Real estate stocks are also trading firm.

Chemicals are mostly trading weak. Non-ferrous metals are exhibiting weakness. Insurance and communications stocks are also seen struggling for support.

Shares of Japan Tobacco Inc. shot up, extending recent gains. The stock is attracting attention on the back of an announcement from the company that it will acquire the leaf tobacco purchasing and processing businesses of British Tobacco supplier Tribac Leaf Limited as well as establish a joint venture with U.S. leaf tobacco suppliers Hail & Cotton Inc. and J.E.B. International. The stock is currently trading up by nearly 5%.

In the currency market, the yen is trading at 98.27 to the U.S. dollar. The U.S. dollar traded at the lower 98 yen-level early Monday in Tokyo, little changed from its levels Friday in New York. In early morning trades, the dollar fetched 98.40-45 yen against 98.40-50 yen in New York and 98.03-05 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Friday.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia is edging off its early lows. Singapore, Korea and Taiwan are down sharply in the red, while Shanghai is trading flat. The New Zealand market is trading modestly higher.

Stocks finished on a mixed note amid thin volumes on Wall Street on Friday with participants not reacting any positively to some economic data. While the Nasdaq closed down 3.57 points or 0.2 percent at 1,858.80, the Dow closed up 28.34 points or 0.3 percent at 8,799.26 and the S&P 500 closed up 1.32 points or 0.1 percent at 946.21.

The stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region had ended Friday's session largely on the upside. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed up by 1.6 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished up by 0.5 percent.

Major European markets closed on the downside. The German DAX Index finished down by 0.7 percent and the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.3 percent. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index also declined, finishing lower by 0.5 percent.

On Friday, crude oil finished lower despite recovering most of an early slump. Oil came under early pressure as OPEC lowered its demand forecast and moved off of a multi-month high. Light sweet crude oil finished at US$72.04, down 64 cents on the session. Oil hit as low as US$70.80 in early trading.

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