TOKYO Japan's Nikkei share average edged up in choppy trade on Wednesday morning as investors largely stayed on the sidelines before major events this week, while the steel sector outperformed on a brokerage's upgrade.
The Nikkei rose 0.2 percent to 15,059.71 in mid-morning trade after dipping into negative territory. It gained 0.7 percent to close at 15,034.25 on Tuesday, the highest closing level since April 4.
Market participants said investors are likely to refrain from building up further positions as they await events such as the European Central Bank meeting on Thursday and U.S. jobs data on Friday.
"The Nikkei managed to trade above 15,000, and investors are taking a wait-and-see approach for now," said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a strategist at Mizuho Securities.
He said that the Nikkei may stay near the 15,000-mark for the rest of the day, but the yen's weakness would limit falls from profit-taking.
The dollar reached a one-month high against the yen at 102.56. Exporters were mixed, with Toyota Motor Corp rising 0.3 percent, while Honda Motor Co shed 0.5 percent and Toshiba Corp gained 0.7 percent.
The iron & steel subsector rose 1.9 percent and was the best sectoral performer after Credit Suisse raised stock ratings of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp and JFE Holdings to 'outperform' from 'neutral', citing future growth in their earnings. Nippon Steel surged 3.4 percent and JFE Holdings gained 2.8 percent.
Yahoo Japan Co jumped 3.8 percent after Goldman Sachs added the stock to its conviction buy list, saying that the cancellation of the eAccess Ltd acquisition plan from SoftBank Corp ends concerns on potential related spending.
The broader Topix added 0.1 percent to 1,230.24, while the new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 rose 0.2 percent to 11,211.34.
(Editing by Eric Meijer)