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Nikkei falls to 4-week low in choppy trade; real estate, mining cos among losers

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TOKYO, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average edged to a four-week low on Wednesday morning in choppy trade after falling for five straight days, with most sectors in negative territory.

The Nikkei shed 0.2 percent to 23,239.73 after falling to as low as 23,184.00, its weakest since Jan. 4, the first trading day of the year. The index briefly stepped into positive territory in early trade.

Although the Nikkei is still up 2 percent this year, it has fallen 3.8 percent from its recent 26-year peak of 24,129.34 hit a week ago.

Real estate firms, mining companies and steelmakers were among Wednesday's big losers. Mitsubishi Estate declined 1.2 percent, Sumitomo Realty & Development fell 1.6 percent, Inpex Corp dropped 1.2 percent and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal shed 1.0 percent.

Bucking the weakness, NEC Corp soared more than 5 percent after it said that it was seeking to cut its domestic workforce by 3,000 people.

The broader Topix declined 0.1 percent to 1,855.48.

(Editing by Sam Holmes)