Asian stocks mixed; Nikkei down 1.2%

A A A - - Asian stocks largely fell on Thursday as markets awaited economic data from the U.S. and China.

Retail sales figures from the U.S. are expected later today and Chinese inflation data is due on Friday.

In Japan, Toyota Motor Corp. fell 0.7% after the news of it recalling 1.9 million of Prius hybrid cars to fix faulty software. Food and drinks company Asahi Group Holdings dropped 5% after it said that its profits will be lower than earlier forecasts.

Stocks in Australia were still higher despite poor job data and falling AUD.

Australian Bureau of Statistics reported on Thursday that country's unemployment rate in January rose to 6% against an expectation of 5.8%, as it stood in December.

The number of people employed in Australia fell by 3,700 against a forecast of an increase of 15,000. In the previous month they fell by 23,000. The full time employment in January fell by 7,100 against the fall of 32,100 in December. The participation rate however remained unchanged at 64.5% against the expectation of 64.6%. The news made AUD/USD to fall 0.94%

Australia's largest telecom company Telstra Corp. rose 0.6% on a 9% rise in first half profit and a higher number of smartphone users.

Nikkei fell 1.17%, Shanghai rose 0.08% Hang Seng fell 0.21% and S&P was up 0.04%.

On Wednesday the profit taking sent U.S. stocks closing mixed to lower after investors locked in gains stemming from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's Tuesday reassurance that policy will remain accommodative and sold for profits.

At the close of U.S. trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.19%, the S&P 500 index fell 0.03%, while the Nasdaq Composite index rose 0.24%.

Speaking before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, Fed Chair Yellen suggested that the central bank would taper the pace of its asset purchases if the recovery continues, though softness in the labor market will likely result in a very gradual dismantling of bond purchases.

Stocks rallied on Tuesday but by Wednesday, investors sold for profits.

Also on Wednesday, consumer products giant Procter & Gamble cut its sales and profit forecasts for 2014, which spooked investors somewhat and bruised the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Leading Dow Jones Industrial Average performers included Caterpillar, up 1.27%, Microsoft, up 0.79%, and Home Depot, up 0.75%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average's worst performers included Procter & Gamble, down 1.73%, Boeing, down 1.57%, and Chevron, down 1.36%.

On Thursday, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is to testify on the bank's semiannual monetary policy report before the House Financial Services Committee, in Washington. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.
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