Japanese Market Drifts Lower

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(RTTNews.com) - The Japanese stock market is drifting lower on Wednesday after opening higher following the overnight gains on Wall Street. A stronger yen is weighing on shares of exporters. In addition, investors digested weaker-than-expected Japanese GDP data for the fourth quarter of 2017.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 66.71 points or 0.31 percent to 21,177.97, after rising to a high of 21,371.01 earlier. Japanese shares gave up initial gains to end lower on Tuesday.

The major exporters are mostly lower. Panasonic is declining more than 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is lower by 0.6 percent and Canon is edging down less than 0.1 percent, while Sony is adding 0.2 percent. SoftBank is down more than 1 percent.

Among automakers, Toyota is declining 0.5 percent and Honda is down 0.2 percent. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding 0.2 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging up less than 0.1 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is adding 1 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is higher by more than 2 percent despite a dip in crude oil prices overnight.

Fujifilm"s shares are losing almost 3 percent after Xerox shareholder Darwin Deason filed a lawsuit against Xerox, alleging that the U.S. photocopier maker"s board failed shareholders by approving a merger deal with Fujifilm that undervalued the company.

Among the market"s best performers, Japan Steel Works is gaining more than 14 percent, Tokai Carbon is rising more than 13 percent and Screen Holdings is advancing more than 8 percent.

On the flip side, Mitsubishi Materials is losing more than 7 percent, DeNA Co. is lower by almost 5 percent, and Mitsui Mining & Smelting is down more than 3 percent.

In economic news, the Cabinet Office said in Wednesday"s preliminary reading that Japan"s gross domestic product added a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent on quarter in the fourth quarter of 2017. That was shy of expectations for a gain of 0.2 percent and down from 0.6 percent in the third quarter.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 107 yen-range on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Tuesday as traders looked ahead to the release of reports on consumer prices and retail sales on Wednesday. The data is likely to have a significant impact on how traders perceive the Federal Reserve will act regarding future interest rate hikes.

The Dow edged up 39.18 points or 0.2 percent to 24,640.45, the Nasdaq advanced 31.55 points or 0.5 percent to 7,013.51 and the S&P 500 rose 6.94 points or 0.3 percent to 2,662.94.

The major European markets moved to the downside on Tuesday. While the U.K."s FTSE 100 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index fell by 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures were steady Tuesday, but unable to recoup recent losses. Analysts point to a surge in U.S. shale oil production as the cause of oil"s retreat from 4-year highs above $66. WTI crude for March dipped $0.10 or 0.2 percent to close at $59.19 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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