TOKYO, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Benchmark Japanese government bonds were steady on Friday, ahead of key U.S. employment data later in the session which could give a clearer picture of the U.S. economic outlook. * "Month-end buying wrapped up, and there is not much movement today, ahead of the payrolls," said a fixed-income fund manager at a European asset management firm in Tokyo. "Looking overseas, if there is big move in yields in either direction on a upside or downside surprise, that could have some influence here, but except for that, there is no near-term directional factor," he said. * The U.S. nonfarm payrolls report, due at 1330 GMT, is forecast to show a rise of 160,000 jobs, with the unemployment rate expected to remain steady at 7.8 percent. A better-than-expected figure could raise expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will begin to curb its asset-buying stimulus within this year, which would sap demand for U.S. Treasuries and in turn likely pressure JGBs. * The 10-year JGB yield was flat at 0.750 percent, remaining solidly between last week's six-week low of 0.720 percent and Wednesday's two-week high of 0.775 percent. * The 10-year JGB futures contract ended morning trade slightly lower, shedding 0.05 point to 144.25. * The superlong tenor outperformed, although volume was light. The 20-year yield fell half a basis point to 1.765 percent, and the 30-year bond yield lost 1.5 basis points to 1.970 percent.