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TOKYO, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Japanese shares eked out small gains on Thursday on bargain-hunting after the past week's heavy selling, but investor sentiment remained frail due to the uncertain outlook for reducing conflicts between the United States and China. At midday, the Nikkei share average was up 0.59% to 20,636.72 after four straight days of losses. The broader Topix gained 0.15% to 1,502.11.
Growth shares extended their outperformance since mid-July, with Topix Growth index rising 0.3% while value shares dipped 0.1%.
The market was relieved as the Chinese yuan was largely stabilising after heavy falls early this week and as there was no fresh escalation in Sino-U.S. tensions over the last 24 hours.
"The market calmed down a bit as there was no particular bad news," said Soichiro Monji, senior economist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.
Yet worries that the their confrontation could tip the global economy into a severe downturn or even a recession kept many investors on the sidelines.
Trading mostly focused on companies that just published earnings.
SoftBank Group fell 2.0%. The firm raked in a record quarterly net profit for a Japanese firm, but the total was boosted by gains from sales of a part of its stake in Alibaba.
SoftBank's results have been increasingly volatile as Chief Executive Masayoshi Son shifts focus from the predictable income of telecoms in favour of bets on startups with shifting valuations.
Justsystems hit limit-high, rising 19.6% after the software developer reported strong profit growth in April-June.
Shares of some other technology firms reporting bumper earnings also jumped, with Lasertec rising 9.8% and Optorun 11.8%.
Sumitomo Osaka Cement rose 7.6% after its earnings beat market expectations.
But not all the earnings reports were rosy.
Heavy equipment maker IHI tumbled 9.8% after posting weak quarterly results. Resource conglomerate JXTG , hurt by weak oil prices, fell 6.0%. (Editing by Richard Borsuk)