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Asia stocks muted after subdued day on Wall Street
Asian stock markets muted after mixed US housing figures, subdued day on Wall Street
By The Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) ' Asian stock markets were muted Thursday after mixed U.S. housing data and a subdued day on Wall Street kept investors on the sidelines

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.4 percent to 10,126.71 as its battered export sector clawed back gains. Hong Kong's benchmark struggled for direction. After a higher open, the Hang Seng fell 0.1 percent to 20,832.82.

South Korea's Kospi lost 0.2 percent to 2,022.35. Financial companies helped lead Australia's S&P/ASX 200 into positive territory with a gain of 0.4 percent to 4,269.40.



Benchmarks in New Zealand, Malaysia and Taiwan also rose. Mainland China and Singapore fell.

On Wednesday in the U.S., the National Association of Realtors released a mixed report about the state of the housing market. Sales of previously occupied homes dipped last month, but the sales pace for the winter was the best in five years, NAR said.

Housing has been dragging on the economic recovery. An oversupply of homes has weakened construction and other trades in many parts of the country.

Wall Street reacted with caution. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 0.4 percent to 13,124.62. The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed down 0.2 percent at 1,402.89. The Nasdaq composite average closed up marginally at 3,075.32.

Other important data due out of the U.S. this week includes weekly jobless claims and the release of leading indicators by the Conference Board in Washington. On the corporate side, both FedEx Corp. and Nike Inc. will report quarterly financial results.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was down 19 cents to $107.08 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.20 to finish at $107.27 per barrel in New York.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3242 from $1.3204 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar fell to 83.26 yen from 83.47 yen.


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