RTTNews - The positive close on Wall Street on the back of some encouraging data on the employment front and bargain hunting after seven successive days of losses lifted the Japanese benchmark index Nikkei up sharply in early trading on Friday.

However, with investors turning cautious after the initial buoyancy, the Nikkei has pared almost all its gains and is currently trading at 9,297, up by a modest 0.07% or 6.28 points over its previous close. Earlier, after opening at 9,342, the index had moved on to 9,370. On Thursday, the Nikkei had ended at 9,291, recording a sharp loss of 129.69 points or 1.38%.

Chemicals are mostly trading higher. Shares of synthetic fiber maker Kuraray Co. are rising sharply this morning on reports the group's operating profit will likely decrease 60% year-over-year, slightly more than 9 billion yen for the six months through September, better than a previous estimate of a 66% drop to 8 billion yen. The stock is currently up by over 4% on its previous closing price.

Fujifilm Holdings, Kao Corp, Nippon Kayaku, Sumitomo Chemicals and Nippon Soda are the other prominent gainers in the chemicals space.

Steel stocks JFE Holdings and Pacific Metals are up with notable gains. In the non-ferrous metals space, SUMCO, Sumitomo Metal Mining, Toho Zinc, Fujikura and Mitsui Mining and Smelting are trading higher.

In the automobile space, Toyota Motor, Suzuki Motor and Nissan Motor are up by 0.5% - 1.3%. Mazda Motor and Isuzu Motors are trading in the red with modest losses. Hino Motors and Honda Motor are trading flat.

Bank stocks are mostly trading in positive territory with modest gains. Machinery and electric machinery stocks are trading up. Textiles are trading firm with Nisshinbo Holdings and Mitsubishi Rayon scoring sharp gains. Construction stocks are mostly trading higher. Shares of rubber products manufacturers and glass ceramics makers are trading firm.

Pharmaceuticals, communications and electric power stocks are exhibiting weakness.

Shares of electronics major Sharp Corp. rose sharply this morning following an announcement by the firm that it will raise output capacity at its Kameyama No. 2 LCD panel plant in Mie Prefecture by 10% in August. The planned capacity boost comes amid growing demand for LCD TVs in China and Japan. The stock, however, has come off its earlier high and is currently trading just 1% up over its previous close.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 93-yen level early Friday in Tokyo, slightly up from its levels overnight in New York. The yen is currently trading at 93.03 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia and Taiwan are trading modestly higher. Shanghai, Singapore and New Zealand are trading flat while the Korean market is trading weak. Markets in the region had ended Thursday's session on a mixed note.

On Wall Street, stocks moved in a choppy fashion on Thursday and ended with modest gains on the back of some encouraging employment data. A report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims fell to 565,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 617,000. Economists had been expecting a more modest decrease to 603,000 from the 614,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Traders largely shrugged off May wholesale trade data from the Commerce Department, which showed that wholesale inventories fell by less than economists had been expecting. The report also showed a modest increase in wholesale sales.

The Dow ended up by 4.76 points or 0.1% at 8,183, the Nasdaq rose by 5.38 points or 0.3% to 1,753 and the S&P 500 finished up by 3.12 points or 0.4% at 883.

Major European markets all closed on the upside, with the German DAX Index closing up by 1.3%, while the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index both rose by 0.5%.

Oil finished mildly higher amid choppy trading on Thursday as the weekly employment report sparked hopes the economy could improve. Light sweet crude for August climbed to US$60.41 per barrel, up 27 cents on the session. Earlier, oil touched a multi-month low of US$59.25.

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