Japanese Market Pares Gains

(RTTNews) - The Japanese stock market has pared early gains and is modestly higher on Monday following the positive cues from Wall Street amid indications of progress in U.S.-China trade talks and the surge in crude oil prices Friday. Investors are cautious as they now look ahead to a raft of economic data from China due later in the day.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 68.74 points or 0.33 percent to 20,734.81, after rising to a high of 20,892.68 earlier. Japanese shares closed higher on Friday.

The major exporters are higher on a weaker yen. Canon is adding almost 1 percent, Sony is rising 0.6 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is adding 0.5 percent.

In the tech sector, Tokyo Electron is adding more than 1 percent, while Advantest is losing more than 2 percent.

Among the major automakers, Honda is higher by almost 1 percent and Toyota is adding 0.6 percent.

Toyota Motor and Panasonic are planning to launch a joint venture in 2020 to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles, according to Japanese media reports, citing sources close to the matter. Shares of Panasonic are higher by more than 2 percent.

Bloomberg reported, citing sources close to the matter, that the French government has asked Japan to accept a possible merger between Renault SA and Nissan Motor following the arrest of Carlos Ghosn. Shares of Nissan are up 0.4 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is up more than 1 percent.

In the oil space, Japan Petroleum and Inpex are higher by more than 2 percent each.

Among the other major gainers, Tokyo Tatemono is rising 7 percent, while Taiyo Yuden and Showa Shell Sekiyu are gaining more than 4 percent each.

On the flip side, Chugai Pharmaceutical and Keio Corp. are declining more than 1 percent each.

In economic news, Japan will see December data for nationwide as well as Tokyo area department store sales and convenience store sales.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 109 yen-range on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply higher on Friday as traders continued to express optimism about trade talks between the U.S. and China. Adding to the positive sentiment, a report from Bloomberg News said China has offered to go on a six-year buying spree to ramp up imports from the U.S.

The Dow soared 336.25 points or 1.4 percent to 24,706.35, the Nasdaq jumped 72.76 points or 1 percent to 7,157.23 and the S&P 500 surged up 34.75 points or 1.3 percent to 2,670.71.

The major European markets also showed strong moves to the upside on Friday. While the German DAX Index spiked by 2.6 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index shot up by 2 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices moved up sharply on Friday to a near two-month high. WTI crude for February delivery surged up $1.73 or 3.3 percent to $53.80 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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