Japan's Nikkei average was almost flat on Wednesday after better-than-expected results from big U.S. retailers such as Home Depot offset an unexpected drop in housing starts and lifted Wall Street.

Sony Corp slipped more than 1 percent after saying it will launch a slimmer, cheaper version of its PlayStation 3 game console next month, hoping to jumpstart sales and win back market share from rivals Microsoft Corp and Nintendo Co Ltd.

The benchmark Nikkei dipped 0.1 percent to 10,272.52, after edging up 0.2 percent the previous day, while the broader Topix added 0.1 percent to 950.16.

(Reporting by Aiko Hayashi)