TOKYO - Tokyo shares closed slightly down on Wednesday, in directionless trade after weaker-than-expected industrial production figures for November failed to provoke much reaction.
The Nikkei index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange ended down 0.20 percent, or 16.94 points, at 8,423.62.
The Topix index of all first-section shares fell 0.39 percent, or 2.80 points, to 721.45.
Japan's industrial production dropped 2.6 percent in November from the previous month, the first fall in two months, after flooding in Thailand crippled supply chains.
The reading, released by the industry ministry on Wednesday, was bigger than market expectations of a 0.7 percent fall.
But Hiroichi Nishi, SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities, said the market's downside was limited, pointing out that Japanese stocks remain relatively cheap.
"The market lacks direction," Nishi told Dow Jones Newswires.
Chibagin Asset Management strategist Yoshihiro Okumura also said: "There aren't many catalysts or participants in the market."
Wall Street closed mixed overnight as retail giant Sears announced it would close between 100 and 120 stores to save costs after a plunge in holiday sales.
The announcement offset a boost from pre-Christmas reports that suggested US consumer spending during the holiday season was up modestly from 2010.
After a strong finish last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat, losing 0.02 percent, or 2.65 points, at 12,291.35.
The broader S&P 500 was flat, gaining 0.10 points to 1,265.43, while the Nasdaq Composite added 0.25 percent, or 6.56 points, to 2,625.20.
On currency markets, the dollar stood at 77.77 yen, slightly lower than 77.88 in New York late Tuesday.
The euro was almost flat at $1.3068, compared with $1.3070, but lower at 101.64 yen from 101.77 yen in New York.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, lost 11.84 percent to 186 yen after industry minister Yukio Edano suggested the possibility of temporary state control of the utility as it undergoes a massive restructuring.