Japanese stock indices ended the session in negative territory on Wednesday amid profit taking in the trucking and semiconductor sectors. Investors are focusing on US inflation data as it could affect how soon the Federal Reserve will begin to roll back stimulus.
Shares of financial and insurance companies fell in price after a decline in long-term US Treasury bond yields worsened the yield outlook for their portfolios.
Meanwhile, Eisai Co securities rose 16.26%, hitting the daily growth limit for a second straight session after US regulators approved Biogen's Alzheimer's disease drug on Monday. Eisai is the company's Japanese partner.
The Nikkei index fell 0.35% to 28,860.80 points. The broader Topix index shed 0.28% to 1,957.14 points. Since the beginning of the month, the Nikkei is up 0.36%.
"Japanese investors want to see tomorrow's US consumer price index and if it is not higher than expected, it should be a relief for markets and could well lead to a rally", said one investor at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.
However, at present, "there is a wait-and-see attitude in the markets", he said, adding that investors have been taking profits and closing positions ahead of the data release.