Connect to share and comment

Asian markets mostly lower after recent gains


Asian stock markets on Thursday mostly reversed gains from the previous day despite the Dow hitting another record on Wall Street, but Tokyo's Nikkei was further supported by a weak yen.

Tokyo rose 0.85 percent, Hong Kong slipped 0.21 percent, Sydney eased 0.10 percent and Seoul skidded 0.66 percent while Shanghai fell 0.45 percent.

Investors took a breather after Wednesday's rally, which was partly fuelled by the Dow hitting an all-time high the previous day.

The index extended its gains on Wednesday after data from payrolls firm ADP showed the private sector piled on 198,000 jobs last month, better than the average of the past six months.

But the Federal Reserve's Beige Book report on conditions across the country said the US economy was expanding at a "modest to moderate pace", while it said healthcare reforms and January tax hikes were hitting consumer spending.

The Dow rose 0.30 percent, the S&P 500 edged up 0.11 percent and the Nasdaq was flat.

Eyes will now be on the Labor Department, which is expected to report Friday that the US jobless rate held at 7.9 percent for the second straight month amid modest job growth.

The upbeat jobs data from the United States pushed the dollar up against the yen in New York late Wednesday and the greenback managed to hold strong in Tokyo Thursday, in turn boosting Japanese shares.

On currency markets the dollar bought 94.05 yen in early trade, compared with 94.04 yen in New York late Wednesday.

Dealers are also awaiting the end of a two-day Bank of Japan policy meeting, the last under governor Masaaki Shirakawa, who steps down on March 19 -- likely making way for Haruhiko Kuroda, an advocate of the government's monetary easing policy.

Also in forex trade, the euro fetched $1.2981 and 122.08 yen, from $1.2971 and 122.00 yen.

On oil markets New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, climbed three cents to $90.46 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for April delivery dipped six cents to $111.00.

Gold was at $1,581.31 at 0210 GMT compared with $1,574.50 late Wednesday.