RTTNews - Stock prices drifted lower in the Japanese market with investors awaiting fresh cues from Wall Street, which will resume trading today after a long weekend. Transport, mining, oil and metal stocks lost ground in early trading while services and information technology stocks edged higher.

The Japanese benchmark Nikkei opened at 9,739, around 78 points down from its previous close, and has plunged deeper into the red subsequently due to heavy selling across the board. The index is currently down with a big loss of 148.92 points or 1.52% at 9,667. On Friday, the Nikkei had ended at 9,816, recording a loss of around 60 points or 0.61%.

Automobile stock Toyota Motor, which rose sharply on reports the firm will roll out a more fuel-efficient hybrid car in 2012, has pared its gains subsequently and is currently trading in the red. Other key stocks in the automobile space are also trading weak.

Bank, construction and foods stocks are mostly trading in the red. Machinery and electric machinery stocks are seeing a sell-off. Steel and non-ferrous metals are also seen exhibiting weakness.

Pharmaceuticals stocks are trading mixed. Shionogi is trading 2% up on reports the company will commercialize cancer biopharmaceuticals. Among chemicals, Kao Corp, Ube Industries, Shiseido, Kurary and Nippon Soda are trading firm.

Shares of Yamoto Holdings Co. are trading firm, gaining around 2% over last closing price. The stock opened bid-only this morning following reports that the group's operating profit likely rose 14% year on year to around 6 billion yen in the April-June quarter.

East Japan Railway drifted lower on a likely 30% year-on-year fall in the firm's profit to 80-85 billion yen in the April-June quarter. The stock is currently trading down by about a percent.

Bank of Japan Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa reiterated this morning that the Japanese economy has begun to stop worsening on the back of improvement in exports and production. The BOJ is due to release its regional economic report compiled by the local branch managers today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded at the upper 95-yen range at 95.87-92 early this morning. Currently, the yen is trading at 95.72 to the U.S. dollar.

With the reporting season about to unfold, the mood is quite cautious in most of the Asian markets this morning. Among other markets in the Asia-pacific region, Australia and Singapore are down sharply in the red. New Zealand and Taiwan are also trading lower. Shanghai and Korea are trading in positive territory with modest gains.

Stock markets in the Asia-Pacific region had ended on a weak note on Friday following losses in Wall Street, where the major indices had ended sharply lower after the Labor Department released weaker job report for June, denting recovery hopes.

The New York Mercantile Exchange was closed on Friday for the July 4 public holiday. A day earlier, light crude for August delivery had settled at US$66.73.

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