U.S. Markets open in 8 hrs 21 mins

Nikkei falls to fresh 2 1/2-month low as yen rise hits mood

TOKYO, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The Nikkei share average fell to a fresh 2 1/2-month low on Friday, erasing earlier gains after a rise in the yen soured sentiment.

Traders cited hedge fund selling in futures while long-term investors stayed on the sidelines before the release of U.S. jobs data next week.

The Nikkei ended 0.6 percent lower at 14,914.53, the lowest closing level since Nov. 14. The index shed 7.8 percent for the week and 8.5 percent for the month.

Traders said that foreign investors were largely on the sidelines after a selloff in emerging market assets and slowing growth in China rattled nerves, and they are unlikely to take large positions until the U.S. employment data is published.

The Topix fell 0.3 percent to 1,220.64, while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400, a recently-introduced gauge comprised of firms with high return on equity and strong corporate governance, shed 0.3 percent to 11,034.66.