Japan's Nikkei stock index closed up 0.50 percent Friday at a fresh two-week high as early losses were erased following sentiment improved from upswings on other Asian bourses.
Local analysts said that trade was tepid in the morning session following closing lows on Wall Street overnight and on concerns about the latest growth reading for the U.S. economy hitting but not exceeding market expectations.
But buying picked up later in the day following an initial round of selling, with brokers saying that shares that fell yesterday having gone ex-dividend were snapped up and, on balance, issues here remain comparatively cheap.
Naoki Fujiwara, a Tokyo-based chief fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management Co. noted that demand was lifted following some issues slumping yesterday when they went ex-dividend, but the market received some support from earnings projections and the general undervaluation of shares here.
In another day of choppy trade however, analysts also said that investors were still awaiting fresh cues, with Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co., saying that upcoming U.S. economic data, particularly next Friday's jobs report, will be closely watched for clearer indications about the health of the U.S. economy.
In recent months, the data form the United States has been listless, but markets were lifted yesterday following the U.S. Commerce Department saying that orders for durable goods increased 2.2 percent, ending two straight months of declines and raising hopes subsequent data shows the health of the world's largest economy is back on track.
The Nikkei Stock Average gained 73.14 points from Thursday to end the week at 14,696.03, while the broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange added 9.62 points, or 0.82 percent, to close at 1,186.52.
Brokers here said that government reports Friday showing inflation in February increased to 1.3 percent, in line with the central bank's expectations, and an improving jobless environment, had little effect on the market, but major issues moved on individual merits or lack therof.
Export-related issues found further traction on a comparatively weak yen, and Hitachi advanced 0.93 percent to 755 yen and Sony gained 0.85 percent to 1,897 yen.
Toyota, who accelerated yesterday after news the work's largest carmaker is planning a massive buyback plan of up to 60 million of its shares and eyeing pumping some of its own investments into new technology in emerging economies, added to gains Friday, rising 0.94 percent to 5,785 yen.
But among notable decliners on the last trading day of the week, Yahoo Japan tumbled more than 6 percent to 514 yen, after it agreed to buy eAccess Ltd. for 324 billion yen (3.2 billion U.S. dollars) from SoftBank Corp.
Brokers said Yahoo's stock fell to its lowest closing level since Dec. 6. and the firm now plans to launch a new service to "Y! mobile" that will share networks with SoftBank. The deal will go through once eAccess and Willcom Inc.'s merger is complete, Yahoo said in a statement.
Panasonic also retreated into negative territory Friday, following the firm's chief's comments about reversing slumping earnings being met with skepticism by market players. The stock dropped 2.26 percent to close at 1,164 yen.
Trading volume on Friday dropped to 2.19 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, down from Thursday's volume of 2. 58 billion shares, with advancing issues outpacing declining ones by 1,386 to 320.