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Asian markets mostly lower after recent gains


Asian stock markets on Thursday mostly reversed gains from the previous day even though the Dow hit another record on Wall Street, but Tokyo's Nikkei was supported by a weaker yen.

Tokyo rose 0.30 percent, or 35.81 points, to 11,968.08 but Sydney eased 0.15 percent, or 7.6 points, to 5,109.2 and Seoul dropped 0.81 percent, or 16.34 points, to 2,004.40.

Hong Kong ended flat, dipping 6.40 points to 22,771.44. Shanghai fell 0.98 percent, or 22.89 points, to 2,324.29.

Investors took a breather after Wednesday's rally, which was 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.

The Federal Reserve's Beige Book report on conditions across the country said the US economy was expanding at a "modest to moderate pace", but health care reforms and January tax rises 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. The greenback managed to hold up in Tokyo Thursday, in turn helping Japanese shares.

The dollar bought 94.02 yen in afternoon trade, compared with 94.04 yen in New York late Wednesday as the Bank of Japan held off any new policy moves at the end of a two-day meeting.

Attention will focus on the next gathering of the policy board, which will likely be the first under the stewardship of Haruhiko Kuroda, a finance veteran and strong supporter of monetary easing.

Also in forex trade, the euro fetched $1.2995 and 122.18 yen, from $1.2971 and 122.00 yen.

On oil markets New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, fell eight cents to $90.35 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for April dipped 23 cents to $110.83 in afternoon Asian trade.

Gold was at $1,582.60 at 0805 GMT compared with $1,574.50 late Wednesday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei rose 0.13 percent, or 10.21 points, to 7,960.51.

Smartphone maker HTC rose 4.11 percent to Tw$266.0 while TSMC fell 0.96 percent to Tw$103.0.

-- Manila closed 1.61 percent lower, shedding 110.08 points to 6,725.13.

Ayala Land led the retreat, falling 5.63 percent to 31 pesos, while its parent Ayala Corp. dropped 4.10 percent to 562 pesos and Metropolitan Bank shed 4.25 percent to end at 115 pesos.

-- Wellington closed 0.83 percent higher, adding 35.51 points to 4,333.48.

Sky Television added 2.6 percent to NZ$5.20 and Telecom rose 2.0 percent to NZ$2.35, while Air New Zealand was up 2.41 percent at NZ$1.49 and Fletcher Building rose 0.87 percent to NZ$9.26.