The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Asian stock markets mostly lower as investors look ahead to US earnings after strong jobs data

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BEIJING, China - Asian stock markets were mostly lower Monday as investors looked ahead to U.S. corporate earnings following last week's strong job numbers.

Oil declined but stayed above $104 per barrel.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was off 0.1 per cent at 2,059.65 points and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.1 per cent at 23,517.08. Taiwan, Sydney, Seoul and Singapore also registered small declines.

Markets gave up some of last week's gains that followed news the United States generated a stronger-than-expected 288,000 jobs in June, a sign an economic recovery might be gaining traction.

"The market saw another piece of evidence that the U.S. economy is gathering steam while at the same time central bank rhetoric remains dovish," said Credit Agricole CIB in a report.

Japan's Nikkei 225 bucked the regional trend, gaining 0.1 per cent to 15,445.92.

Taiwan's Taiex shed 0.2 per cent to 9,486.92 and Seoul's Kospi was off 0.4 per cent at 2,001.27. Sydney's S&P ASX 200 shed just under 0.1 per cent to 5,521.80.

On Thursday, the last U.S. trading day before the Independence Day long weekend, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.6 per cent to close above 17,000 for the first time. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 and the Nasdaq composite also added 0.6 per cent.

"Companies in the U.S. are widely expected to report better earnings after the winter slumber," said Desmond Chua of CMC Markets in a report.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 closed unchanged Friday while France's CAC-40 fell 0.5 per cent and Germany's DAX shed 0.2 per cent.

Oil shed 3 cents to $104.02 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract tumbled 42 cents in the previous session to close at $104.06.

In currency trading, the euro fell to $1.3584 from $1.3594 late Friday. The dollar rose to 102.14 yen from 102.08 yen.

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