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Nikkei reverses course to end higher on bargain buying as travel stocks jump

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TOKYO, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei reversed course to end higher on Friday, led by travel and leisure shares, as investors scooped up stocks that were beaten down amid concerns over the impact of the Omicron coronavivus.

The Nikkei share average rose 1%, the biggest percentage gain in three weeks, to close at 28,029.57. The index, which fell as much as 0.59% earlier in the session, posted a 2.5% weekly drop.

The broader Topix jumped 1.63% to 1,957.86 but lost 1.3% for the week.

"Investors started buying shares once they confirmed where the bottom of the Nikkei for the day," said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.

"But going forward, the market will be moving up and down as long as details of the Omicron will be missing and concerns on the variant will remain."

Shares that were battered by worries over the resurgence of the new coronavirus variant rebounded, with airlines and railways rising 5.28% and 3.28%, respectively.

Travel agency H.I.S surged 8.06% and KNT-CT Holdings jumped 9.56%.

Department stores also climbed, with Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings rising 5.615 and Takashimaya gaining 4.81%.

SoftBank Group, which has a stake in Grab , slid 0.71% after the ride-hailing and delivery firm tumbled more than 20% in its Nasdaq debut on Thursday.

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Global, in which SoftBank Group invests, will delist from the New York stock exchange and pursue a listing in Hong Kong.

Fast Retailing, owner of the Uniqlo brand of clothing stores, fell 0.71% after the company's domestic same store sales fell for a fourth straight month in November.

Chip making equipment maker Tokyo Electron lost 0.47%.

(Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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