* Banking sector hits more than 4-month high
* Directionless trade to persist through Friday - analysts
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks edged up in choppy trade on Thursday morning as gains by banks offset weak mining shares, while many investors waited for jobs data to provide clues on when there will be U.S. rate hike.
The Nikkei share average, which moved in and out of positive territory, was up 0.1 percent at the mid-morning break.
Friday’s U.S. unemployment data remains a key focus, after Federal Reserve Vice Chair Stanley Fischer said last week the jobs data will be a factor in determining when the central bank hikes rates.
Traders said that as the weak yen trend has paused, Japanese stocks will likely be directionless until further clues come on the timing of Fed action.
“Most investors seem to be happy seeing the dollar trading around 103.50 level,” said Kazuhiro Takahashi, equity strategist at Daiwa Securities. “They probably won’t buy or sell sharply this week.”
On Thursday, the dollar was down 0.2 percent at 103.20 yen , after rising as high as 103.54, its highest since July 29.
The banking sector, which has risen the past three days, attracted fresh buying and hit a more than four-month high.
Traders said the Bank of Japan’s plan to conduct a “comprehensive assessment” on the impact of its stimulus measures is raising hopes the central bank may adopt a measure which could help banks.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group gained 2.5 percent, Mizuho Financial Group added 1.7 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group rose 1.9 percent.
Exporters drew buyers, with Toyota Motor Corp rising 0.8 percent, Honda Motor Co 1.0 percent and Nissan Motor Co by 1.7 percent.
Inpex Corp dropped 2.7 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co shed 1.5 percent after oil prices fell 3 percent or more overnight before rebounding during Asian trade.
The broader Topix gained 0.5 percent to 1,335.99 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 0.5 percent to 12,024.93. (Editing by Richard Borsuk)