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Nikkei little changed as investors await U.S. tariffs decision

TOKYO, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average was little changed on Thursday as investors waited to see if the United States will delay its Dec. 15 tariffs on imports from China.

The Nikkei share average fell 0.02% to 23,386.48 by 0055 GMT after opening slightly higher. The broader Topix shed 0.25% to 1,710.61, dented by a fall of 0.5% in small-cap shares.

The benchmark index has been in a holding pattern since early November, hovering below 23,600 increasingly seen as a major resistance.

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to meet with top trade advisers on Thursday to discuss the planned Dec. 15 tariffs on some $160 billion in Chinese goods, three sources familiar with the plans said.

Although the market has been underpinned by some hopes of a Sino-U.S. trade deal, investors worry that negotiations could come under a cloud if the tariffs kick in this weekend.

The market received some support from a relatively dovish stance by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The central bank held interest rates steady and signaled borrowing costs will not change anytime soon.

Semiconductor-related shares were the brightest spot following their peers' strong showing on the Wall Street. The Philadelphia semiconductor index rose 2.2% overnight to a record high.

The top four gainers on the Nikkei were all chip-related shares. Tokyo Electron rose 3.6%, Sumco gained 3.1%, Screen Holdings advanced 2.7% and Advantest added 2.6%.

Machinery makers gained 0.3% despite weak reading on Japan's machinery orders data.

Core machinery orders fell 6% in October, the fourth consecutive month of decline, way below expectations of a small gain, raising concerns capital spending may be losing momentum. (Reporting by Tokyo Markets Team; editing by Uttaresh.V)