Asian stocks were slightly lower Thursday after rallying the previous day amid indications the U.S. economy is improving.
Most of the region’s markets were little changed as investors looked for a new catalyst to drive prices higher after Wednesday’s gains.
Investor sentiment has been bolstered this week by positive signs from the U.S. economy.
Earnings reports that beat expectations from Deere & Co., Whole Foods Market Inc., Kraft Foods Inc. and Abercrombie & Fitch over the last two days suggest U.S. consumer spending may be rebounding, an encouraging sign for Asian companies that sell goods to the world’s biggest economy.
Traders are also watching for more possible moves by the Chinese government to slow economic growth and avoid asset bubbles. China raised its bank reserves requirement last week in a bid to cool lending, but so far investors brushed off concerns this could dampen regional growth.
Markets in China and Taiwan were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.
South Korea’s Kospi stock index led decliners, dropping 4.55, or 0.3 percent, to 1,622.88 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 50.54, or 0.3 percent, to 20483.47.
Singapore stocks slid 0.4 percent and Indonesia skidded 0.5 percent.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average was up 15.09 points, or 0.2 percent, at 10,321.92 while stock benchmarks in Thailand and Malaysia rose 0.2 percent.
In the U.S. on Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 40.43, or 0.4 percent, to 10,309.24. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4.64, or 0.4 percent, to 1,099.51, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 12.10, or 0.6 percent, to 2,226.29.
Benchmark crude oil for March delivery was down 39 cents at $76.94 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 32 cents to settle at $77.33 on Wednesday.
In currencies, the dollar rose to 90.90 yen from 90.57 yen. The euro fell to $1.3567 from $1.3602.