Bangkok: Asian stock markets were muted Thursday after mixed US 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 US, 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 US 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 USD 107.08 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose USD 1.20 to finish at USD 107.27 per barrel in New York.
In currencies, the euro rose to USD 1.3242 from USD 1.3204 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar fell to 83.26 yen from 83.47 yen.
First Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012, 09:27