Asian stocks mostly higher in quiet trading; oil prices gain

Asian stocks were moderately higher on Thursday with few data reports to move the markets. Investors are watching tax reform developments in the U.S. after President Donald Trump's firing of FBI chief James Comey. Oil prices extended gains.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.2 percent to 19,929.27 and South Korea's Kospi gained 0.8 percent to 2,288.90. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index advanced 0.3 percent to 25,096.16. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.3 percent to 5,891.60. But Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.4 percent to 3,041.00. Stocks in Taiwan, Singapore and Southeast Asia were higher.

ANALYST'S VIEWPOINT: "Trump's decision to fire FBI director Comey continues to reverberate, with markets uncertain whether this could distract the government from its tax reform agenda," said Mizuho Bank in a daily report.

WALL STREET: Stocks finished slightly higher on Wednesday on Wall Street. The Standard & Poor's 500 index picked up 0.1 percent to 2,399.63. The Dow Jones industrial average shed 0.2 percent to 20,943.11. The Nasdaq composite finished at a record for the fourth day in a row as it rose 0.1 percent to 6,129.14.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude added 21 cents to $47.54 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after surging $1.45, or 3.2 percent, to $47.33 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 20 cents to $50.42 per barrel in London after closing up $1.49, or 3.1 percent, at $50.22 in the previous session. The price of U.S. crude oil jumped as reports showed U.S. crude stockpiles dropped by 5.2 million barrels last week, bigger than analysts expected.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 114.21 yen from 114.29 yen. The euro rose to $1.0874 from $1.0868.