TOKYO (dpa-AFX) - The Japanese stock market is trading modestly higher on Wednesday with investors indulging in some selective buying, tracking the overnight positive close on Wall Street. A slightly weaker yen and data showing a lower trade deficit are also contributing to the market's rise to an extent.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index is up 51 points or 0.3 percent at 15,027.0, after advancing to 15,049.0 earlier.
Takara Holdings, Panasonic Corp. (PC), Pacific Metals, Fukuoka Financial Group Inc., Amada Co. and Mitsubishi Logistics are moving up 2 to 3 percent.
Shizuoka Bank, Bank of Yokohama, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Nomura Holdings, Hino Motors, Resona Holdings, GS Yuasa Corp., Okuma Corp., Daiwa Securities Group, Nippon Electric Glass, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nisshin Steel are also notably higher.
Kobe Steel Ltd. expects its steel products business will make a pre-tax profit of around 10 billion yen for the current year, compared to a loss of approximately 2 billion yen in the previous year. The stock is advancing 0.7 percent.
Among the losers, Nikon Corp. is down more than 3 percent following a rating downgrade by JP Morgan Chase. Sony Financial Holdings, T&D Holdings, Yaskawa Electric Corp., Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, Asahi Group Holdings, Nippon Yusen KK and Toho Zinc are declining 1 to 2.2 percent.
On the economic front, Japan saw a merchandise trade deficit of 908.963 billion yen in May, the Ministry of Finance said on Wednesday. That beat expectations for a shortfall of 1,189.3 billion yen following the 811.7 billion yen deficit in April.
Exports were down 2.7 percent on year, missing forecasts for a decline of 1.3 percent following the 5.1 percent jump in the previous month, while imports dropped an annual 3.6 percent versus expectations for an increase of 1.8 percent after gaining 3.4 percent a month earlier.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded slightly above 102 yen in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 102.14 to the U.S. dollar, compared to Tuesday's close of 102.03 yen per dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore and Taiwan are up marginally, while Hong Kong, Shanghai, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea are modestly lower. Malaysia is down slightly from the unchanged line.
On Wall Street, stocks ended modestly higher on Tuesday, after coming under pressure early on due to some disappointing economic data. The buying interest, however, was somewhat subdued.
The Dow edged up 27.5 points or 0.2 percent to 16,808.5, the Nasdaq rose 16.1 points or 0.4 percent to 4,337.2 and the S&P 500 crept up 4.2 points or 0.2 percent to 1,942.0.
Major European markets closed higher on Tuesday. While the U.K.'sFTSE 100 index edged up by 0.2 percent, the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index moved up 0.4 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil ended lower for a second straight session on Tuesday, on some soft economic data out of the U.S. with investors looking ahead to the official inventories data and the outcome from the two-day Federal Reserve policy meet on Wednesday.
Crude for July delivery ended down $0.54 or 0.5 percent at $106.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after scaling a high of $107.18 a barrel intraday.