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Stocks down ahead of US earnings

Asian stock markets were mostly lower on Monday morning as investors looked ahead to US corporate earnings following last week's strong job numbers.

Oil declined but stayed above 104 dollars per barrel.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was off 0.% at 2,059.65 points and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.1% 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 US 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% to 15,445.92.

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

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

"Companies in the US 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 on Friday while France's CAC-40 fell 0.5% and Germany's DAX shed 0.2%.

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

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