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Japan stocks log biggest weekly loss in 9 months as virus wave weighs

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By Stanley White

TOKYO, May 14 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks clocked their biggest weekly loss in nine months as investors refrained from placing big bets amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases and on U.S. inflation scare, despite a slight climb in the day on positive corporate earnings.

The Nikkei 225 Index ended 2.32% higher at 28,084.47 on Friday, while the broader Topix rose 1.86% to 1,883.42.

For the week, the Nikkei fell 4.3% to its biggest loss since the week ended July 31, 2020.

Technology shares led the advance on Friday as investors hunted for bargains following a global sell-off in the sector.

Investor concerns over Japan's slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout and further restrictions on the business activity curbed risk appetite during the week.

"Japanese shares are trying to chase the U.S. markets higher, but the economic outlook for both countries is diverging, so Japanese shares will not be able to keep up," said Ayako Sera, a market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.

"Japan's vaccination rate is behind the United States, so its economy recovery will also lag behind."

The largest percentage gainer in the Nikkei index was Isuzu Motors Ltd, which surged by 21.68% after issuing bullish profit forecasts for the current fiscal year.

IHI Corp gained 8.79% after the industrial equipment maker said it expects this fiscal year's operating profit to more than double.

Citizen Watch Co Ltd also rose 10.71% as investors cheered the company's latest earnings.

Another notable gainer was Toshiba Corp, whose shares rose 0.89% after the industrial conglomerate said it expects a 63% surge in annual operating profit this fiscal year.

Toshiba gave up some gains after one of its units said its European business was hit by a cyber attack.

The largest percentage losses in the index were Nippon Sheet Glass Co Ltd down 14.78%, followed by Toho Zinc Co Ltd losing 7.96%, and Oji Holdings Corp down by 6.48%. (Reporting by Stanley White, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)