(RTTNews.com) - With investors mostly treading cautiously following the release of a slew of economic data, the Japanese stock market is trading lower on Friday, swinging between gains and losses. The yen's upmove against the U.S. dollar is also contributing to the market's weakness to an extent.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which declined to 14,853.8, is currently trading at 14,891.1, down 32 points or 0.2 percent from its previous close.
Marui Group is down 3 percent. Japan Tobacco, Oji Holdings, Sumitomo Realty & Development, Hokuetsu Kishu Paper, Tokyo Tatemono, Sekisui House and Takara Holdings are trading lower by over 2 percent.
Seven & I Holdings, Shinsei Bank, Fujitsu, Hitachi Zosen, Suzuki Motor, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Furukawa, Sumitomo Metal Mining and Softbank Corp. are also trading notably lower.
Meanwhile, JTEKT Corp., Nitto Denko Corp., TDK Corp., NTN Corp., Mitsubishi Electric, Advantest Corp. ( ATE ), Olympus Corp., Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Unitika and Sony Corp. ( SNE ) are trading in positive territory, gaining 1.5 to 3 percent.
On the economic front, the average of household spending in Japan climbed 1.1 percent on year in January to 297,070 yen, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said on Friday. That was sharply higher than forecasts for a gain of 0.5 percent following the 0.7 percent increase in December.
The average of monthly income per household stood at 438,646 yen, down 0.6 percent on year. The average of consumption expenditures per household was 325,804 yen, down 0.2 percent on year.
According to another report from the same ministry, Japan posted a seasonally adjusted jobless rate of 3.7 percent in January, in line with expectations and unchanged from the previous month.
The participation rate was 58.7 percent, down from 59.0 percent in the previous month. The job-to-applicant ratio was 1.04 - matching forecasts and up from 1.03 a month earlier.
Additionally, the ministry said that overall nationwide consumer prices were up 1.4 percent on year in January, topping forecasts for 1.3 percent but slowing from 1.6 percent in December.
Core consumer prices were up 1.3 percent on year - matching expectations and unchanged from the previous month. On a monthly basis, overall CPI was down 0.2 percent and core inflation dipped 0.3 percent.
Overall inflation for the Tokyo region - considered a leading indicator for the nationwide trend - was up 1.1 percent on year in February. That topped forecasts for 1.0 percent and was up from 0.7 percent in January.
Core CPI for Tokyo added 0.9 percent on year - also exceeding forecasts for 0.8 percent and up from 0.7 percent a month earlier. On a monthly basis, overall CPI in Tokyo was flat and core CPI added 0.1 percent.
Meanwhile, according to the data released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, industrial output in Japan was up a seasonally adjusted 4.0 percent on month in January. That beat forecasts for an increase of 2.8 percent following the 0.9 percent gain in December.
On a yearly basis, industrial production spiked 10.6 percent - also topping expectations for a gain of 9.4 percent following the 7.1 percent increase in the previous month.
Upon the release of the data, the METI maintained its assessment of out, saying: industrial production continues to show an upward movement.
According to another report from the METI, retail sales in January climbed 4.4 percent on year, coming in at 11.732 trillion yen. That beat forecasts for an increase of 3.8 percent following the 2.5 percent gain in December.
On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, retail sales climbed 1.4 percent - also topping expectations for 1.3 percent following the 1.2 percent decline in the previous month.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 102 yen range in early deals in Tokyo, quoting around 102.15 yen, as compared to Thursday's close of 102.36 yen. The yen is currently trading at 101.86 against the U.S. dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Taiwan are trading higher. Singapore is up marginally and Shanghai is trading weak, while Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and South Korea are trading flat.
On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly higher on Thursday, with traders digesting Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen's testimony before the Senate Banking Committee. While the tone of Yellen's testimony was little changed from her remarks before the House Financial Services Committee earlier this month, she acknowledged the economic impact of the severe winter weather.
Although buying interest was somewhat subdued, the S&P 500 managed to end the session at a new record closing high, gaining 9.1 points or 0.5 percent to 1,854.3. The Dow rose 74.2 points or 0.5 percent to 16,272.6 and the Nasdaq advanced 26.9 points or 0.6 percent to 4,318.9.
Major European markets ended mixed on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index edged up by 0.2 percent, the German DAX index dropped by 0.8 percent and the French CAC 40 index closed just below the unchanged line.
U.S. crude oil pared much of the losses but still ended lower on Wednesday, as investors mulled over the official weekly oil supplies report and the unfolding tense scenario in Ukraine's Crimea region. Oil prices also reacted to some weak economic data out of the U.S. with initial claims for unemployment benefits rising and new orders for manufactured durable declining in January.
Crude for April delivery ended down $0.19 or 0.2 percent at $102.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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