Japanese shares end higher on bargain-hunting; post weekly gains

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TOKYO, May 20 (Reuters) - Japanese shares closed higher on Friday, rebounding from a near 2% fall in the previous session, as investors scooped up beaten-down stocks on hopes of corporate earnings growth.

The Nikkei share average ended 1.27% higher at 26,739.03 and marked a 1.18% weekly gain. The broader Topix climbed 0.93% to 1,877.37 and posted a rise of 0.71% for the week.

The gains came even as Wall Street closed lower overnight, hurt by fears about the broadening impact of inflation and a plunge in Cisco Systems due to its dismal outlook.

"Japanese equities were firm today (Friday) even as the Dow and S&P had extended their losses," said Shigetoshi Kamada, general manager at the research department at Tachibana Securities.

"Overall, the corporate outlook is relatively strong, and many made modest forecast for currencies, which means there may be a further upside toward the end of the year."

Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing rose 2.53% and provided the biggest boost to the Nikkei. SoftBank Group followed suit with its 3.5% climb, while chip-making equipment maker Tokyo Electron added 1.27%.

Seiko Epson surged 8.78% and was the top gainer on the Nikkei after the watch maker announced a buyback of up to 9.35% of its shares.

Tokyo Gas fell 2.75% and was the biggest loser on the index after a report said the gas provider would shoulder increasing costs as there was a limit on how much it could pass them on to consumers.

Staffing agency Recruit Holdings rose 6.3% and was the top gainer among the top 30 core Topix names, followed by lens maker Hoya, which jumped 5.32%.

Touch panel maker Keyence fell 2.39% and was the worst performer among the top 30, followed by air-conditioning maker Daikin Industries Ltd, which fell 1.28%. (Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Aditya Soni and Uttaresh.V)