* Nikkei may head towards 16,000 by year-end - analyst * Sumco jumps to 4-mth high on report on higher profits By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average sped to a 6-month high on Thursday morning, as a slump in the yen jolted exporters higher on expectations of improved earnings. The dollar traded above 102.00 yen for the first time since May 29 after data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment aid unexpectedly fell last week. The Nikkei gained 1.1 percent to 15,624.12 in mid-morning trade after rising as high as 15,660.26, within sight of a 5-1/2 year peak of 15,942.60 marked on May 23. The Topix advanced 0.8 percent to 1,256.56. Japanese stocks were also buoyed by the Dow and the S&P 500, which closed at record highs on Wednesday. U.S. markets will be shut on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Exporters took advantage of the yen's fall, with Panasonic Corp rising 2.0 percent, Honda Motor Co soaring 2.0 percent and Canon Inc adding 1.1 percent. "The yen's weakness is lifting hopes for even higher profits for exporters this fiscal year," said Hiroyuki Fukunaga, the chief executive of Investrust, adding that he expects the index to reach 16,000 by the end of the year. A weak yen sharpens exporters' competitive edge overseas and boosts their dollar earnings when repatriated. Other notable gainers included Sumco Corp, soaring 10 percent to a four-month high after the Nikkei business daily reported that the wafer maker is expected to report a 10 percent jump in its operating profit to over 3 billion yen for the August-October quarter. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd jumped 3.0 percent and was the 10th most traded stock by turnover after the Nikkei reported that surging demand for liquefied natural gas would increase transporting needs, creating an opportunity for Japanese maritime transport companies. Galvanized by the Japanese government's massive fiscal and monetary stimulus, the benchmark Nikkei has risen about 50 percent this year, gunning for its best yearly performance since 1972.