RTTNews - The Japanese stock market declined on Thursday as investors indulged in profit taking after the previous session's strong gains. The mood is a bit cautious ahead of Sunday's House of Representatives election.

With stocks across various sectors falling sharply, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell sharply to 10,451 and is currently trading at 10,485, down 155 points or 1.46% from its previous close.

Buoyed by rising U.S. consumer confidence and better than expected U.S. home price data, the Nikkei had ended up by 142.35 points, or 1.36%, at 19,640 on Wednesday.

Automobile stocks are mostly trading lower. Suzuki Motor, Toyota Motor and Mazda Motor are down by by about 1% each. Among bank stocks, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Resona Holdings, Fukuoka Financial, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Bank of Yokohama are exhibiting weakness.

Steel and non-ferrous metals are mostly trading weak. Among machinery stocks, NSK and JTEKT are trading with notable gains, while most of the other key players in the space are trading weak. Electrical machinery stocks are also trading lower.

Nippon Sheet Glass Co. shares plunged following an announcement by the company that Stuart Chambers, who is widely credited with making the firm a global presence, will step down as CEO on September 30. Chambers was president of U.K. glassmaker Pilkington Plc, which Nippon Sheet Glass acquired in 2006, and took over the helm of the Japanese firm in June 2008. The stock is currently down by over 7%.

Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings surged higher on reports that affiliate Mitsukoshi Ltd. will likely cut about 1,000 permanent jobs, or about 20% of the total workforce, at its department stores. The stock briefly climbed 22 yen on the day to 1,042 yen, as investors expect the move to improve the company's efficiency.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded at the lower 94 yen level earlier this morning, slightly down from its late Wednesday quotes in New York. The dollar fetched 94.07-94.12 yen against 94.20-94.30 yen in New York and 94.17-94.18 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Wednesday. The yen is currently trading at 93.89 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, Singapore, Korea and Taiwan are trading modestly lower while New Zealand is trading flat. Stock markets across the region had closed mostly higher on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, stocks finished Wednesday's session little changed, with the day's trading marred by choppy movement despite largely positive news on the economic front. Though data on new home sales and durable goods orders in July triggered some buying early on in the day, stocks gave up most of the gains as traders chose to take profits ahead of the weekly jobless claims report.

The Dow closed up by 4.23 points at 9,543.52, the Nasdaq gained 0.20 points to finish at 2024.43 and the S&P 500 rose by 0.12 points to 1,028.12.

Major European markets closed moderately lower. The French CAC 40 Index slid by 0.3%, while the German DAX index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.7% and 0.6%, respectively.

Oil prices fell after official data showed a surprise jump in crude inventories in the U.S., the world's biggest energy consuming nation. Light sweet crude for October delivery dropped 62 cents to US$71.43 a barrel, a day after it climbed to a 10-month intraday high of US$75.

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