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Tokyo: Stocks open 0.24% lower

[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks opened 0.24 per cent lower on Thursday as New York stocks fell for a second day after a record run.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange dropped 45.44 points to 18,658.16 at the start.

The lower opening came after the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.58 per cent while the broad-based S&P 500 fell 0.44 per cent.

Investors were growing cautious after dull data on US private business hiring and service sector growth, and a so-so Beige Book economic survey from the Federal Reserve.

Eyes were now on Friday's official jobs market report for February, and the European Central Bank (ECB) meeting Thursday.

The euro stayed weak after slumping to a new 11-year low against the dollar Wednesday on the eve of the ECB meeting.

The euro traded at US$1.1078 early Thursday against US$1.1080 late Wednesday in New York where the common European currency briefly fell to US$1.1062, its lowest level since September 2003.

ECB president Mario Draghi is set to unveil Thursday details of the unprecedented bond-purchase programme due to launch this month to ward off deflation.

The ECB's announcement stood in stark contrast to the Federal Reserve's plan to exit crisis support, having ended its asset-purchasing plan in October and planning to raise near-zero interest rates this year.

The dollar was at 119.67 yen early Thursday against 119.70 yen in New York late Wednesday.