Japan's Nikkei share average ended lower on Wednesday in a listless trade as investors continued to sell stocks to book profits after last week's rally.
The Nikkei index fell 0.26% to close at 33,321.22 after opening 0.49% lower and trading in positive territory earlier in the session.
"Investors remained cautious about the recent gains in the Nikkei so they took a pause in buying," said Jun Morita, general manager of the research department at Chibagin Asset Management.
"There were no cues for buying or selling in recent sessions," Morita said.
The Nikkei turned slightly positive earlier in the session as investors bought heavyweight shares, which rose last week, on dips, said Shuutarou Yasuda, market analyst at Tokay Tokyo Research Institute.
Investors started to lock in profits after the index hit a 33-year high on Nov. 20. The index has failed to end higher than the closing level on July 3 of 33,753.33, which was the highest close in 33 years.
The broader Topix fell 0.51% to 2,364.50, dragged by banking shares. The banking index lost 2.54%, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group sliding 2.83% and 2.63%, respectively.
Uniqlo brand clothing shop owner Fast Retailing erased gains to end 0.61% lower.
Chip-making equipment maker Tokyo Electron was up 0.69%.
About 63% of shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's prime market fell.
Denso reversed course to end 0.92% higher following a 4.8% decline in the previous session after Reuters reported Toyota Motor and two affiliates planned to sell about 10% of the component maker by year-end.
Toyota shares rose 1.27%. (Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Eileen Soreng)