Japanese Market Rises

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The Japanese stock market is rising on Monday, with the record closing highs on Wall Street Friday and higher crude oil prices helping offset the impact of a stronger yen.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 132.31 points or 0.56 percent to 23,764.19, off a high of 23,787.23 earlier.

The major exporters are mixed on a stronger yen. Sony is adding almost 1 percent and Panasonic is rising 0.6 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is declining almost 1 percent and Canon is edging down less than 0.1 percent.

Among automakers, Toyota is adding 0.2 percent and Honda is rising 0.3 percent. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is up 0.1 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is losing 0.6 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is higher by 0.6 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is gaining more than 3 percent after crude oil prices rallied to fresh four-year highs on Friday.

The Nikkei business daily reported that e-commerce group Rakuten intends to buy Tokyo-based Asahi Fire & Marine Insurance for 40 billion yen to 50 billion yen and further expand into insurance. However, shares of Rakuten are down 0.5 percent.

Among the market's best performers,Shin-etsu Chemical is rising more than 5 percent, Sumco Corp is higher by almost 5 percent and Fuji Electric is advancing more than 2 percent.

On the flip side, JGC Corp., Dentsu and IHI Corp. are all declining more than 2 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 108 yen-range on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Friday, reflecting a positive reaction to the latest earnings news from semiconductor giant Intel and industrial conglomerate Honeywell. On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing slower than expected economic growth in the fourth quarter, but economists recommended looking past the headline number.

The Dow advanced 223.92 points or 0.9 percent to 26,616.71, the Nasdaq spiked 94.61 points or 1.3 percent to 7,505.77 and the S&P 500 jumped 33.62 points or 1.2 percent to 2,872.87.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Friday. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.9 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.7 percent and the German DAX Index rose by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil prices rallied to fresh 4-year highs Friday, extending strong weekly gains even as U.S. drillers continued to add rigs. WTI crude rose $0.63 or 1 percent to settle at $66.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.