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LOS ANGELES Japanese stocks began trading modestly higher Monday, as the yen extended its downward march, sending the dollar and euro near their highest levels against the currency since April. The Nikkei Stock Average rose 0.3% to 9,478.35, with the Topix also up 0.3%, as strength in retailers and some techs offset weakness in industrials and energy shares. Gains for the tech majors included a 2.1% advance for Renesas Electronics Corp. , a 1.7% gain for Canon Inc. , and a 1% rise for Panasonic Corp. . Retailers also improved, as Takashimaya Co. added 1.3%, and J. Front Retailing Co. improved by 1.5%, though Fast Retailing Co. lagged with a 0.4% gain after the Uniqlo clothing-chain operator said Friday it planned to buy just of 80% of U.S. peer J Brand Holdings LLC. On the downside, most major car makers traded lower ahead of the release of November auto sales figures, with Toyota Motor Corp. down 0.4%, and Mazda Motor Corp. lower by 0.8%. Energy names Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. and JX Holdings Inc. each lost 0.9%, while tech-focused conglomerate Sharp Corp. dropped 0.6% after a report over the weekend in the Sankei newspaper that it would sell some of its television factories outside Japan to Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. , as well as news it was ending its solar-cell joint-venture with Tokyo Electron Ltd. . Shares of Tokyo Electron fell 0.8% in early trade.

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