TOKYO, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average gave up small gains to trade lower on Wednesday ahead of U.S. inflation, but the losses were limited as investors bought value shares that withstand higher rates.

The Nikkei was down 0.31% to 32,675.89 by the midday break, after rising as much as 0.3% earlier in the session. The broader Topix was down 0.2% to 2,375.13.

"The market had little direction today, in part as investors awaited U.S. inflation data," said Hideyuki Suzuki, general manager of investment research at SBI Securities.

"But under this environment, investors wanted to buy value stocks and that limited the losses."

U.S. August consumer price index (CPI) data is due later in the day, while data on producer prices is scheduled for Thursday. Both sets of data will help gauge the Federal Reserve's outlook on interest rates ahead of its meeting on Sept. 20.

Investors also braced for signs the Bank of Japan (BOJ) will relax its ultra-easy policy at its two-day policy meeting next week, after Governor Kazuo Ueda signalled an early end to the bank's negative rate in an interview with a local newspaper.

Technology start-up investor Softbank Group fell 2.03% to drag the Nikkei the most, followed by staffing agency Recruit Holdings, which lost 2.27%.

Chip-testing equipment maker Advantest slipped 1%.

Bucking the trend, phone company KDDI rose 1.53% to provide the biggest support to the Nikkei.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group climbed 2.58% to become the biggest support for the Topix.

Yen's retreat overnight improved sentiment, said Hajime Sakai, chief fund manager at Mito Securities, sending exporter shares higher.

Toyota Motor rose 0.6%, which also provided support to the Topix. (Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Janane Venkatraman)