Japan Blue-chip Stocks Nose Higher Ahead Of Holiday; Sharp Loses Ground

By MarketWatch Pulse

Japanese stocks gurggled just a little higher in opening Friday trade, with the Tokyo market looking to complete a perfect 5-for-5 week of winning sessions. About 10 minutes into the session, the Nikkei Average was up 0.1%, with the Topix flat, even after the dollar rose above the �124 mark overnight. Still, with some reports citing caution ahead of a three-day weekend for Japan, the gains for the big exporters were mixed and modest, with Panasonic Corp. up 0.2%, Canon Inc. and Nissan Motor Co. up 0.6% each, and Hitachi Ltd. up 0.1%. Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp. rose 0.7% as a Nikkei news report quoted the company as saying it may combine its chemical, plastics and rayon units to save money. Among the outperformers, Nintendo Co. rallied 2.2%, and shares of Alps Electric Co. traded 2.4% higher, continuing to make hay over a target-price hike by UBS. On the downside, Toyota Motor Corp. lost 1.2% on the back of recent gains, and Sharp Corp. fell 2.9% after a Nikkei earnings preview tipped the company to swing to a quarterly operating loss for the April-June period. But stock in Unicharm Corp. rose 1.5% on a separate Nikkei item predicting the diaper-maker to post a 3% rise in six-month net profit, even as operating profit would decline.

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