Japanese Market Extends Gains

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The Japanese stock market is extending gains on Thursday from the previous session, following the mostly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, higher commodity prices and a weaker yen.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 167.23 points or 0.75 percent to 22,325.43, off a high of 22,360.65 earlier.

The major exporters are higher on a weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric is gaining more than 2 percent, Canon is rising 0.4 percent, Panasonic is higher by 0.2 percent and Sony is edging up less than 0.1 percent.

Among the major automakers, Toyota is adding almost 1 percent, while Honda is up 0.1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising more than 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is advancing more than 1 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is adding almost 1 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is rising almost 3 percent after the overnight surge in crude oil prices.

Among the market's best performers, Sumitomo Metal Mining is gaining almost 8 percent and Pacific Metals is higher by more than 5 percent on higher commodity prices, while Kansai Electric is rising almost 5 percent.

On the flip side, Tokai Carbon is losing almost 5 percent, while Nichirei Corp. and Subaru Corp. are down more than 2 percent each.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Wednesday in choppy trading amid a mixed reaction to quarterly results from several big-name companies. Traders also seemed somewhat reluctant to continue buying stocks amid uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets.

The Dow dipped 38.56 points or 0.2 percent to 24.748.07, while the Nasdaq rose 14.14 points or 0.2 percent to 7,295.24 and the S&P 500 inched up 2.25 points or 0.1 percent to 2,708.64.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Wednesday. While the German DAX Index closed just above the unchanged line, the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.5 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 1.3 percent.

Crude oil futures continued to rise Wednesday, surging to their highest since December 2014 after U.S. oil inventories dwindled. Crude for May delivery spiked $1.95 or 2.9 percent to $68.47 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.