* Nikkei up slightly, investors hesitate to advance rally
* Nikkei yet to close Feb chart gap opened after COVID-19 outbreak
* Hopes of economic recovery and vaccines underpin sentiment
* Real estate shares hit by rising bond yields
By Hideyuki Sano
TOKYO, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average eked out gains on Friday, but stopped short of a final step towards a complete recovery from its decline triggered by the coronavirus crisis.
The Nikkei .N225 ended 0.17% higher at 23,289.36, briefly hitting a six-month high for two straight sessions, but did not rise enough to close a major chart gap between 23,378 and 22,950 made in February, when signs of global spread of the COVID-19 caught investors off guard.
Given risk factors such as uncertainties over U.S. stimulus and intensifying China-U.S. tensions, investors regarded profit-taking more prudent than chasing the rally further.
The broader Topix .TOPX dipped 0.05% to 1,623.28, having risen 8.5% just in the first two weeks of August, supported by hopes of gradual recovery in the global economy and rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines.
"The market has been strong even for a bull like me. It has been driven by short-covering by foreign investors," said Seiichi Suzuki, chief equity market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute.
The biggest gainer among the top 100 firms .TOPX100 was Fujifilm Holdings 4901.T , which rose 2.8% after the company said it expects data from a clinical trial of its Avigan drug on COVID-19 patients to be ready in about a month. 4324.T gained 2.2% after the advertising firm managed to eke out small gains, despite analyst forecasts of a quarterly net loss. Ra Daichi 3182.T , one of the stay-at-home stock winners, advanced 11.8% to an all-time high after local media reported, which was later confirmed, that the food delivery service operator will tie up with restaurant chain Ootoya Holdings 2705.T . the other hand, rise in bond yields this week also prompted investors to take profit from interest rate-sensitive shares, including Softbank 9984.T , and real estate firms .IRLTY.T .
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