Nikkei races to 6-year high, heading for best year since 1972
* Nikkei heads for fifth day of gain, eyes on 16,000 * Nikkei up 53 pct YTD, heading for best yearly rise since 1972 By Dominic Lau TOKYO, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average sped to a six-year peak on Tuesday morning, edging closer to the 16,000-mark, driven by buying from long-only investors after Wall Street racked up more records. The Nikkei was up 0.5 percent to 15,955.94 in mid-morning trade, adding to the previous four session's 4.8 percent rise. "Hedge funds are pretty quiet. A lot of them have closed their books for the year, so if hedge funds are quiet there is really no shorting going around in the market at the moment," a trader at a European bank in Tokyo said. "Long-only investors seem to be buying relatively across the board," he said, adding that the focus was on whether the Nikkei could reach 16,000 this year. Japanese stocks have enjoyed a record-breaking rally this year, backed by Tokyo's aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus aimed at sparking sustainable growth in the world's third-largest economy. The benchmark Nikkei is up 53 percent this year, on track for its best annual rise since 1972. Sentiment was buoyed by another record session on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 advancing to all-time highs overnight. Mitsubishi Motors Corp jumped 5.4 percent to a three-week high after the automaker lifted its operating profit forecast for this financial year by 20 percent to 120 billion yen ($1.15 billion) on Friday. Japanese markets were closed on Monday for a public holiday. The carmaker cited a weakening yen, cost cuts and strong sales of the Outlander SUV plug-in hybrid for the guidance upgrade. Short selling in Mitsubishi Motors had eased lately. According to data provider Markit, 8.8 percent of its outstanding shares were out on loan as of Dec. 20, down from 9.95 percent on Dec. 12. Index heavyweight SoftBank Corp, which owns 80 percent of U.S. Sprint Corp, added 0.2 percent, underperforming the broader market. The stock is still the second best performer in the Nikkei this year, up more than 180 percent. Bloomberg cited sources as saying that SoftBank's Chief Executive Masayoshi Son held talks with at least five banks to finance a possible bid by Sprint to buy a majority stake in T-Mobile US Inc in 2014. The broader Topix index was up 0.2 percent at 1,263.54, with volume at 30 percent of full daily average for the past 90 trading days. More upside seems likely for Japanese stocks in the New Year. Japanese equities carried a 12-month forward price-to-earnings ratio of 14, below a 10-year average of 16 and the U.S. S&P 500's 15, data from Thomson Reuters Datastream showed.