Japanese Market Drifts Lower

(RTTNews) - The Japanese stock market drifted lower on Tuesday after opening higher following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street and on a weaker yen.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 10.04 points or 0.05 percent to 20,873.73, after touching a high of 20,981.23 in early trades. Japanese shares closed higher on Monday.

The major exporters are mostly lower despite a weaker yen. Panasonic is losing more than 3 percent after reporting a 19 percent decline in third-quarter operating profit and lowering its full-year earnings outlook, while Mitsubishi Electric is lower by 0.6 percent and Sony is down 0.2 percent. Canon is up 0.4 percent.

In the tech sector, Advantest is advancing almost 2 percent, while Tokyo Electron is down 0.5 percent. Among the major automakers, Toyota is rising 0.5 percent, while Honda is losing almost 2 percent.

In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding 0.6 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is lower by 0.5 percent each. In the oil space, Japan Petroleum is down 0.7 percent and Inpex is losing 1 percent after crude oil prices declined overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Yahoo Japan is gaining more than 7 percent, Fujikura is higher by almost 7 percent and Tokuyama Corp. is rising more than 5 percent.

On the flip side, Sumitomo Dainippon is losing more than 3 percent, while Showa Shell Sekiyu, Fast Retailing and Nippon Express are lower by almost 3 percent each.

In economic news, the latest survey from Nikkei revealed that the services sector in Japan continued to expand in December, and at a stronger pace, with a services PMI score of 51.6. That's up from 51.0 in November and it moves farther above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also said its composite index dipped to a score of 50.9 in January from 52.0 in December.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 110 yen-range on Tuesday.

On Wall Street, stocks rose to two-month highs on Monday, led by technology stocks, as markets continued to benefit from recent upward momentum as well as the positive sentiment generated by last Friday's monthly employment report for January. Trading activity was somewhat subdued, however, amid uncertainty about trade talks between the U.S. and China along with the potential for another government shutdown.

The Dow climbed 175.48 points or 1.7 percent to 25,239.37, the Nasdaq jumped 83.67 points or 1.2 percent to 7,347.54 and the S&P 500 advanced 18.34 points or 0.7 percent to 2,724.87.

The major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.2 percent, the German DAX Index closed just below the unchanged line and the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.4 percent.

Crude oil prices retreated after moving higher earlier on Monday, as traders weighed energy demand prospects and supply situation amid OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against Venezuela's oil exports. WTI crude oil futures for March ended down $0.70 or 1.3 percent at $54.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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