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Tokyo: Stocks end lower with eye on earnings

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[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks finished lower Friday, hit by a strong yen and profit taking, with traders awaiting earnings from a string of companies including auto maker Suzuki and cosmetics firm Shiseido.

The Nikkei 225 index has come within spitting distance of the 20,000 level in recent days but has been unable to breach it, last closing above the psychologically significant mark in December 2015.

"There's a bit of a feeling the recent rally's been overdone, so investors may be more inclined to take profits," Hideyuki Ishiguro, a senior strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo, told Bloomberg News.

The Nikkei ended the day 0.39 per cent, or 77.65 points, lower at 19,883.90, but it still gained 2.25 per cent over the week.

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The broader Topix index of all first-section issues lost 0.39 per cent, or 6.15 points, to close at 1,580.71. It rose 1.96 per cent this week.

Next week, investors will be keeping an eye on more corporate results and Japan's economic growth data on Thursday.

On Friday, Suzuki slipped 2.58 per cent to 4,871 yen while Shiseido gained 0.65 per cent to end the session at 3,246 yen.

After markets closed, the small car maker said its full-year net profit jumped more than 37 per cent, while the cosmetic giant said its net profit for the three months to March nearly halved.

Exporters took a hit as the US dollar weakened to 113.72 yen, from 114.25 yen in New York. A strong yen tends to hit exporters' profitability.

Toyota fell 1.24 per cent to 6,047 yen, while Sony was down 0.66 per cent at 4,046 yen.

Nissan bucked the trend, jumping three per cent to 1,107.5 yen after it forecast a dividend increase, overshadowing news that profits are on track to stall this year.

Telecoms company SoftBank fell 2.45 per cent to 8,657 yen after a report said it is considering a merger of its US unit Sprint with rival T-Mobile.

SoftBank led a US$502 million funding round for British tech firm Improbable, according to the London-based company.