BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets were muted Thursday amid concern an improved U.S. economy might prompt the Federal Reserve to reduce its stimulus faster than previously expected.
A survey Wednesday that showed U.S. employment increased in December prompted concern the Fed might accelerate the process of winding down bond buying that has supported stock prices. The Fed has been buying $85 billion of bonds a month in a strategy dubbed quantitative easing, or QE, but said in December it will trim that by $10 billion to $75 billion beginning this month.
"The bet is on QE wind-down sooner rather than later," said Mizuho Bank in a report.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 shed 1.6 percent to 15,868.29 while China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 percent to 2,048.41. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.1 percent to 22,981.64.
Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan's Taiex was down 0.4 percent and Seoul's Kospi fell 0.2 percent. Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 was little changed at 5,313.60. India's Sensex was steady.
In the United States, payroll processor ADP said companies added 238,000 jobs in the U.S. in December, up slightly from 229,000 in the previous month. November's figures were also revised higher. Official jobs data are due to be released Friday.