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Japanese shares hit nearly 2-month high on positive earnings

Aug 5 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei benchmark index surged on Friday to close above the 28,000 psychological barrier for the first time in nearly two months, helped by upbeat corporate earnings reports.

The Nikkei share average hit 28,190.04, its highest since June 9, before closing up 0.87% at 28,175. The index extended gains to a third day and rose 0.87% for the week.

The broader Topix index gained 0.85%.

Hiroshi Namioka, chief strategist and fund manager at T&D Asset Management, had said earlier the Nikkei could consolidate at 28,000 in the near term if it closed above the milestone.

The index briefly went above 28,000 on Thursday before paring gains to close flat.

Sentiment on Friday was lifted by a rally in Taiwanese stocks, with the TAIEX index climbing 2.27%, and gains in U.S. stock futures, said a market participant at a domestic asset management firm.

Investors had expected to see more tentative movements ahead of the release of U.S. employment data due later in the day.

Of the Nikkei’s constituents, 146 climbed, while 77 dropped and two traded flat.

Kikkoman Corp led the gains among Nikkei’s best performers, rising 9.25% after the food manufacturer posted strong earnings.

Nippon Steel Corp came close with gains of 8.31% after the company forecast a 6% drop in annual profit, way smaller than analysts had expected.

Clothing manufacturer Fast Retailing gained 1.32% after it floated plans to open its first U.S. store for discount brand GU this autumn.

Entertainment company Konami Group Corp turned out to be the worst performer in the Nikkei, losing 3.87% after reporting a fall in profit despite an uptick in revenue.

Construction firm Taisei Corp fell 3.28% after confirming that it bought back 5.5 billion yen ($41.28 million) worth of its own shares last month. ($1 = 133.2300 yen) (Reporting by Sam Byford and Tokyo markets team; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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