Nikkei leads fall in mostly weak Asian markets

February 13, 2014
A man walks outside a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. Tokyo stocks jumped in early trading Wednesday, a day after a surge on Wall Street that followed reassurance from the new head of the U.S. Federal Reserve about continued low-interest rate policies. (AP Photo/Junji kurokawa)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stocks were mostly lower Thursday, led by a fall in Tokyo after Wall Street ended lower for the first time this week.

The region's performance showed that investors are taking a break after days of plowing back into riskier assets. Earlier this week, markets were buoyed by improved trade figures from China and the new head of the U.S. Federal Reserve's pledge to continue low interest rates.

Japan's Nikkei 225, the region's main index, dropped 1.4 percent to 14,598.25. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.3 percent to 22,228.44 and South Korea's Kospi edged down 0.1 percent to 1,934.46. Markets in the Philippines and Taiwan traded lower.

China's Shanghai Composite Index was marginally higher at 2,111.59. On Wednesday, Beijing reported faster growth in imports and exports for January, easing worries about slowing growth in the world's No. 2 economy.

The Australian stock market was almost flat even after a poor January employment report.

Earlier in the U.S., stocks fell for the first time in five days after weak earnings reports. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 0.2 percent at 15,963.94 while the broader S&P 500 inched down 0.03 percent to 1,819.26.

In currency trading, the euro was up 0.2 percent at $1.3615 while the dollar fell 0.3 percent to 102.18 yen.

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was down 53 cents at $99.84 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 43 cents to close at $100.37.