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Tokyo investors look to support for share prices next week

[TOKYO] Tokyo investors are optimistic about next week following a rash of strong corporate earnings reports in Japan, and as fears of an immediate Greek crisis recede.

"While it depends on the US employment report, the market won't be in bad shape as we head into next week," Juichi Wako, a senior strategist at Nomura Holdings in Tokyo, told Bloomberg News.

"There are some noticeable bad earnings (but) on the whole the weaker yen is having an effect and we're seeing more upward revisions," he said, referring to Japan's corporate results season.

Soichiro Monji, chief strategist at Tokyo-based Daiwa SB Investments, also told the news agency: "Japanese companies are starting to see real earnings strength, not just from a weaker yen, so I think the general trend is for shares to rise." On Friday, the Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange closed 143.88 points higher at 17,648.50. Over the week, the index fell 0.15 per cent.

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The broader Topix index of all first-section shares edged up 0.50 per cent, or 7.08 points, to 1,417.19. It added 0.15 per cent for the week.

US payrolls data due to be released later Friday will be in focus for possible clues as to the US Federal Reserve's next move, with speculation the Fed could raise interest rates later this year.

The European Central Bank on Wednesday said it would no longer allow Greek banks to use government debt as collateral for loans, rattling markets and sending the euro tumbling.

However, ECB officials said Thursday Greek banks could still tap their emergency liquidity assistance programme, dampening fears of an immediate crisis while Athens seeks new bailout terms with creditors.

"Greece is still an issue but investors are choosing to focus on the positives," Tony Farnham, a strategist at Patersons Securities in Sydney, told Bloomberg.

"There would probably be a compromise, whether extending the repayment period on Greek debt or cutting interest rates. There's further upside in equities given the wave of global monetary easing by central banks." Oil explorer Inpex added 0.88 per cent to 1,372.5 yen as crude prices extended a recent advance, while camera maker Nikon tumbled 5.47 per cent to 1,467 yen after cutting its net-income forecast.

The dollar slipped to 117.25 yen in Asian midday trade from 117.55 yen in US trade Thursday.