Nikkei dips but market on course for best quarter in 2 years

* Nikkei slips but broader market gains

* Nikkei on course for biggest quarterly gains in 2 years

* Ex-dividend shares fall sharply

* Japan data surprise on upside, mildly support market

TOKYO, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei dipped but the broader market firmed on Friday, and is on course to wrap up the quarter with the biggest gains since 2017 on the back of easing U.S.-China trade tensions.

The Nikkei share average shed 0.36% to 23,837.72, though about a half of the loss came from Fast Retailing , which has a disproportionately big weighting of about 10% in the index.

The Nikkei is still not far from a 14-month top of 24,901 touched in early December, and with only one trading day left for the year, it could log its best quarter in two years.

The broader Topix gained 0.11% to 1,733.18, with advancers outnumbering decliners by 71 to 29, an unusually high ratio compared to small gains in the Topix.

The market is supported by hopes that the United States and China will sign off on an interim trade deal early next year, with cyclical value shares attracting buying.

“The markets should have an upside bias towards the 24,000 level. Japanese macro-economic data wasn’t bad, also helping the mood,” said Takeo Kamai, head of execution at CLSA.

Japan’s jobless rate unexpectedly fell to match a 27-year low hit earlier this year and Tokyo-area consumer price inflation unexpectedly accelerated 0.2 percentage point to 0.8%.

On the other, industrial output slipped to the lowest since early 2013 though the fall was smaller than expected and the data did nothing to change the view that the manufacturing sector is bottoming out thanks to a detente in the U.S.-China trade war.

With many foreign investors absent due to year-end holidays, retail Japanese traders were considered to be the main players.

Shippers were the best performing sector among the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s 33 industry subindexes with a gain of 1.4%.

Banks gained 0.9%, with both MUFG and Mizuho Financial up 0.7%.

The index of Mothers start-up market rose 0.7% while the Jasdaq market, another bourse for start-up firms, also ticked up 0.6%.

J. Front Retailing jumped 5.2% to a one-year high as investors welcomed the announcement from the department store operator that it will seek to wholly own Parco, an operator of a commercial complex in which it already has a dominant stake.

Parco shares jumped 21.8% to the day’s limit.

Many of the top decliners were those that went ex-dividend on Friday.

Japan Tobacco, which boasts the highest dividend yield among the Topix Core 30, lost 3.5% while Canon shed 2.5%.

Casual restaurant chain operator Skylark Holdings dropped 3.8% while cosmetics maker Pola Orbis Holdings lost 2.5%. (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)