Last update: Wed, 18 Jan 2017 10am
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Fed rate decision key focus for Tokyo investors

Central bank meetings in Washington and Tokyo, a Japanese business confidence survey and a raft of Chinese data will be key trading cues for Tokyo investors next week. Topping the list is a long-awaited decision by the US Federal Reserve on whether it would lift interest rates for the first time in nine years, as the world's top economy mounts a firm recovery. Policymakers are widely expected to pull the trigger on a rate rise.

"The most important thing by a very, very long way will be what the Fed decides to do on Wednesday. This is a thing that investors have been fretting about all year," said Nicholas Smith, a Tokyo-based strategist at brokerage CLSA.

"It will reduce tension in the markets when we finally get a decision."

The Fed's two-day meeting starts after the Bank of Japan - which also holds a policy meeting next week - publishes its closely watched Tankan business confidence survey on Monday.

The report comes after official data this week showed that Japan side-stepped its second recession in as many years as revised data showed that the economy actually grew last quarter.

An initial estimate had showed a contraction.

Meanwhile, investors will also be reacting to fresh figures from China, including November retail sales and industrial production, that are to be released this weekend.

On Friday, Tokyo pared three days of losses as a weaker yen boosted demand for exporter shares and investors searched for bargains.

"We had a severe selloff so now we're seeing a bit of a comeback," Yoshinori Shigemi, a global market strategist at J. P Morgan Asset Management, told Bloomberg News.

At the close, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index was up 0.97 percent, or 183.93 points, to 19,230.48. It slipped 1.40 percent over the week.

The Topix index of all first section shares climbed 0.59 percent, or 9.16 points, to 1,549.51. But it was down 1.56 percent this week.

Unnerving investors, oil tumbled to fresh multi-year lows Friday after OPEC said output had surged, exacerbating concerns over a supply glut that is expected to persist beyond next year.

With the global economy struggling, China's growth subdued and the dollar tipped to strengthen further, the commodity is expected to remain beaten down until possibly 2017.

In currency markets, the outlook for a US interest rate lift-off boosted the dollar, which rose to 121.86 yen in Asian trading from 121.62 yen Thursday in New York.

A weaker yen is good news for Japanese exporters as it boosts their profitability and competitiveness overseas.

Toyota shares advanced 1.10 percent to 7,685 yen, while Sony rose 1.19 percent to 3,041 yen.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015