SINGAPORE — Asian stocks fell Thursday amid concerns that rising food and fuel costs could undermine consumer demand, hurting economic growth and company profits.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 0.6 percent to 9,583.86 and South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.4 percent to 2,114.38. Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 0.8 percent to 23,943.98, while China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.1 percent to 3,053.36.

Asian investors were also eyeing mixed signals on U.S. economic growth. While the unemployment rate has dropped this year as the economy creates more jobs, exports in February were weaker than expected.

"While softness in U.S. growth is a concern, the real issue for investors is the second-round effects of high and rising commodity prices," said Clive McDonnell of BNP Paribas in Singapore. "For Asia in particular, margins in the consumer sectors are at risk as we pass the sweet spot of rising commodity and equity prices."

Oil prices hovered above $107 a barrel in Asia as a large drop in U.S. gasoline supplies suggested the two-month crude rally hasn't yet significantly undermined consumer demand.

U.S. stocks were little changed Wednesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.25 point, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,314.41. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 7.41, or 0.1 percent, to 12,270.99. The Nasdaq composite gained 16.73, or 0.6 percent, to 2,761.52.

Elsewhere in Asia, Sydney's S&P ASX 200 was down 0.9 percent at 4,867.10.

Singapore's Straits Times index slumped 0.3 percent to 3,161.73 after the central bank said Thursday it would allow the currency to strengthen in a bid to slow inflation. Singapore also reported that the economy grew a seasonally adjusted annualized 24 percent in the first quarter.

The dollar fell slightly to 83.48 yen from 83.82 in New York late Wednesday, while the euro was up slightly at $1.4447 from $1.4441. (AP)