RTTNews - The stock market in Japan ended in positive territory on Friday, led by oil stocks following a rise in crude oil prices to a seven-month high in New York on expectation of a revival in demand and the weaker U.S. dollar. A positive closing on Wall Street and strength in financial stocks lifted the sentiment. However, traders were cautious and restrained from taking positions ahead of the much-awaited jobs data in the U.S.
In the U.S., traders digested the initial jobless claims for the week ended 30th May, which fell to 621,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 625,000. Economists had been expecting jobless claims to edge down to 620,000 from the 623,000 originally reported for the previous week. The report also showed that continuing claims fell to 6.735 million in the week ended May 23rd from the preceding week's revised level of 6.750 million.
In a separate report, the Labor Department revised its labor productivity figures for the first quarter, revealing a mild increase in the pace of growth. The report also showed that unit labor costs increased by less than previously estimated.
The Dow climbed 74.96 points or 0.9% to 8,750, the Nasdaq finished up 24.10 points or 1.3% at 1,850 and the S&P 500 closed up 10.70 points or 1.1% at 942.
The Nikkei 225 Average opened sharply higher at 9,753 compared to its previous close of 9,669, reflecting the gains on Wall Street and higher oil prices. The market held on to the gains and traded in a narrow range ahead of the U.S non-farm payrolls report. The index ended with a gain of 99.05 points, or 1.02% at 9,768. The broader Topix Index of all first section issues also edged higher to 917, a gain of 5.57 points, or 0.6%.
Crude oil prices continued its northward march and ended higher with a gain of 54 cents at $69.35 a barrel in Asian trading. Light sweet crude for July delivery closed sharply higher at $68.81 in New York Mercantile Exchange on Thursday on hopes of increasing demand.
Financial stocks ended in positive territory, taking cues from its peers in the U.S, which advanced following RBC Capital's upgrade of the banking sector to Sector Perform from Overweight. Mitsubishi UFJ edged up 0.32%, Mizuho Financial added 1.26%, Resona Holdings advanced 1.42% and Sumitomo Mitsui surged up 4.81%.
Oil stocks advanced on higher crude oil prices. Inpex Corp surged up 4.80%, Nippon Oil gained 3.46% and Showa Shell added 1.82%.
Exporters advanced on a weaker local currency. Canon Inc. soared 4.17%, Nikon gained 4.31% and Sony Corp. added 2.08%.
In the automotive space, Mazda Motor Co surged more than 10% after Nikko Citigroup raised the automaker's target price by 36 percent to 350 yen, citing better earnings prospects in the second half of the business year. Among others in this space, Honda Motor edged up 0.35% and Toyota Motor gained 1.31%.
On the other hand, shipping stocks ended weaker following a drop in the Baltic Dry Index, which is used as a benchmark measure for shipping costs for commodities. Kawasaki Kisen lost 2.27%, and Mitsui OSK Lines fell 1.18%.
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