Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains

HONG KONG (AP) -- Asian stock markets were mostly lower Thursday, with Japan's Nikkei leading the retreat as investors locked in profits after a strong rally.

Profit taking set in following a sharp rise in Tokyo the day before and as comments from the country's central bank governor left investors unimpressed.

Other regional benchmarks were unable to find direction in spite of optimism in the U.S., where major benchmarks closed at least 1 percent higher, and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank would continue to provide stimulus for the job market.

Trading in some markets such as Hong Kong and Australia was subdued ahead of a long weekend.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.4 percent to 14,362.94 after rising 3 percent on Wednesday.

Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda said in a speech that the bank would make adjustments as needed to its ultra-loose monetary policy, and he reiterated his confidence that the policy is having the desired effect of stimulating the economy, according to Kyodo news agency.

South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.2 percent to 1,988.10. Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged up 0.1 percent to 22,724.84 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.5 percent to 5,448.80. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.3 percent to 2,098.65.

On Wall Street, the Dow rose 1 percent to 16,424.85 and the Standard & Poor's 500 rose 1.1 percent to 1,862.31. The Nasdaq composite rose 1.3 percent to 4,086.22.

In energy trading, benchmark crude oil for May delivery was up 33 cents to $104.09. The contract rose 1 cent to settle at $103.76 on Wednesday.

In currencies, the dollar slipped to 101.93 yen from 102.22 in late trading Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.3840 from $1.3820.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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