U.S. stocks fell on Thursday after a strong earthquake hit northern Japan. The news came nearly a month after a devastating earthquake and tsunami rocked the world's third-largest economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 63.88 points, or 0.51 percent, at 12,362.87. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 4.47 points, or 0.33 percent, at 1,331.07. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 10.40 points, or 0.37 percent, at 2,789.42.

(Editing by Kenneth Barry)