TOKYO, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average hit a 2-1/2 month low on Friday afternoon as Switzerland’s move to abandon its cap on the franc dampened risk appetite.

In early afternoon trade, the Nikkei fell 3.0 percent to 16,592.57, the lowest level since Oct. 31, when the Bank Of Japan unexpectedly eased monetary policy.

The broader Topix dropped 2.1 percent to 1,348.34 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 fell 2.2 percent to 12,231.82.

The Swiss National Bank scrapped its cap on the franc in a surprise move, pushing the Swiss currency up sharply, depressing the euro and stoking demand for the safe-haven yen.

Investors took this as a sign that the European Central Bank would launch large-scale bond buying next week, as many had already expected.

(Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)