Japanese shares opened higher Friday, the final session of the year, lifted by encouraging US economic data after Italy avoided disaster with its long-term bond auction.
The Nikkei index of the Tokyo Stock Exchange rose 0.35 percent or 29.72 points to 8,428.61 in early trade. The Topix index of all first section issues added 0.26 percent or 1.91 points to 724.03.
Investor sentiment improved after fresh data on the US housing market came out better than expected, with other data also sounding cheerful market signals going into 2012.
The optimistic data boosted US markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 135.63 points (1.12 percent) to 12,287.04.
The broader S&P 500 rose 13.38 points (1.07 percent) to 1,263.02, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite gained 23.76 points (0.92 percent) to 2,613.74.
A healthy appetite for major Tokyo shares is likely to boost the Nikkei, analysts said.
"Large-cap stock buying is likely to push up the Nikkei by 50 points or so," Tachibana Securities' Kenichi Hirano told Dow Jones Newswires.
He projected that the Nikkei would trade in a band between 8,400 and 8,480, reversing recent moderate weakness of the Tokyo bourse amid thin holiday trade.
But the global market continued to fret over the eurozone debt woes.
Italy scraped through a key bond auction test on Thursday at the end of a disastrous year for the eurozone, raising 7.0 billion euros ($9.0 billion).
That was below the maximum sought of 8.5 billion euros but long-term rates were holding below the danger threshold of 7.0 percent.
The rate on bonds due in 2021 was 6.7 percent -- higher than the level of 5.77 percent for the last similar operation on October 13. The rate on bonds due in 2022, however, was 6.98 percent compared to 7.56 percent in November.
Meanwhile,the forex market stayed quiet.
The euro stood at $1.2951, slightly softer from $1.2960 in New York Thursday. It also eased to 100.56 yen in Tokyo from 100.61 yen in New York.
The dollar bought 77.64 yen, essentially unchanged from 77.62 yen.