Nikkei rises for 8th day as strong U.S. data, weak yen boost mood
* Weak yen lifts index-heavy stocks but some exporters fall on profit-taking * Nikkei winning streak longest since Dec * Resistance seen at 15,500 - analyst By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose for an eighth day on Wednesday morning as the yen weakened, but gains were subdued as many investors stuck to the sidelines ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's annual meeting starting on Thursday. The Nikkei rose 0.2 percent to 15,478.72 in mid-morning trade, refreshing a new two-week high. If it finishes the day higher, it would mark its longest winning streak since last December. The dollar rose to three-week highs of 102.97 yen in early trade after solid U.S. housing starts suggested the nation's housing market recovery was back on track after stalling in the second half of last year. Analysts said that the weak yen was supporting the mood but trading volume has been low due to the summer lull as well as caution ahead of the annual Fed meeting of top central bankers and economists in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. "As there aren't many people participating in the market, gains may be limited," said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities, adding that the immediate resistance line is seen at 15,500. Traders said the weak yen lifted risk appetite from short-term investors in index heavyweight stocks, such as SoftBank Corp and KDDI Corp, which both rose 1.0 percent. However, exporters were mixed as some succumbed to profit-taking. Toyota Motor Corp fell 0.5 percent, Honda Motor Co 0.2 percent and Panasonic Corp 0.5 percent. On the other hand, Sony Corp added 1.1 percent and Tokyo Electron Ltd advanced 0.3 percent. Outperforming the market was ABC-Mart Inc, which surged 3.0 percent after it hiked its dividend payout for the full year through February to 80 yen per share from 60 yen per share. The broader Topix gained 0.1 percent to 1,281.15, and the new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 0.1 percent to 11,661.19. (Editing by Kim Coghill)
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