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Japan shares follow Wall Street higher on U.S. stimulus hopes

TOKYO, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Japanese shares edged higher on Friday, following a firmer finish on Wall Street, although gains were somewhat capped by weakness in semiconductor stocks after shares of industry bellwether Intel Corp tumbled overnight.

The benchmark Nikkei share average rose 0.21% to 23,523.95 by the midday break, while the broader Topix was nearly flat at 1,619.91.

Wall Street provided a strong lead as positive domestic economic data and signs of progress in stimulus talks helped all three major U.S. stock indexes finish higher on Thursday.

The market had little reaction to the final U.S. presidential debate ahead of the November election.

Among the top losers on Friday, shares of semiconductor firms Tokyo Electron and Advantest Corp lost 2.14% and 0.54%, respectively, following a 10% decline in Intel’s shares after it reported a slump in quarterly margins.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries climbed more than 4.9% after Reuters reported it would freeze development of its SpaceJet regional jet.

Online games developer Nexon Co soared above 15%, having hit the daily limit earlier, after media reported that the company would replace FamilyMart Co in the Nikkei stock average.

Other companies that were seen as potential candidates for replacement, such as Kakaku.com Inc and Zozo Inc , fell 6.76% and 8.03%, respectively.

Japan Exchange Group edged 0.34% higher after the Nikkei business daily reported the Japanese financial regulator had entered the Tokyo Stock Exchange to conduct an on-site inspection to investigate the causes behind a full-day trading halt earlier this month.

The Mothers Index of start-up firm shares slipped 2.82% as investors booked profits after recent rallies, and was set to post the biggest weekly loss since mid-March.

Meanwhile, the TSE REIT index edged 0.23% lower, after hitting its lowest level since Aug. 12 in early trade. (Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Aditya Soni)

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