TOKYO (XFN-ASIA) - Share prices gave up morning gains to close lower amid thin volumes, pushing the key Nikkei index back down below 15,000 points, as investors opted to unload some holdings before the release of more quarterly results, dealers said.

Stock prices made a solid start after US stocks gained again overnight, but the initial round of purchases waned and the market lost upward momentum, dealers said.

Tokai Tokyo Research Center senior analyst Masayoshi Yano said many market participants had been reluctant to take big new positions while they waited for a batch of corporate earnings reports for the three months to June.

'Investors also remain wary about the resilience of the US economy and US stocks in the face of uncertainty about the outlook for US monetary policy, the Middle East crisis and the prospects for crude oil prices,' said Koichi Ogawa, chief fund manager at Daiwa SB Investments.

Among the notable losers were the semiconductor sector, in which Fujitsu was down 20 yen or 2.4 pct at 825, Mitsubishi Electric lost 17 yen or 2 pct at 849 and NEC Electronics ended down 60 yen or 1.8 pct at 3,340.

Internet companies fell, with Yahoo Japan dipping 3,800 yen or 7.6 pct to 46,200. Softbank -- which is a gauge of retail investor appetite, according to dealers -- lost 84 yen or 4.1 pct at 1,966.

Auto makers were mixed, with Hino Motors falling 30 yen or 4.4 pct to 651 and Mitsubishi Motor losing 4 yen or 2 pct at 196. But Nissan Motor was up 41 yen or 3.5 pct at 1,221 after it reported that its net profit rose 4 pct year-on-year in the fiscal first quarter to June.

The non-life insurance sector declined, led by Millea, which was down 60,000 yen or 2.7 pct at 2,120,000, and Nipponkoa, which fell 20 yen or 1.5 pct to 1,275.

Victor Co of Japan (JVC) rose 12 yen or 2.3 pct to 535 after it said its net loss for the fiscal first quarter was 39 pct narrower than a year before.

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