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Stocks lower ahead of US reports

Asian stock markets have headed lower as investors turned cautious before US earnings season kicks off this week.

Investors will get a feel for corporate America's outlook as earnings reports start coming.

Aluminium producer Alcoa will launch the reporting season for the fourth quarter of 2012 after US markets close later.

Events during the quarter such as Superstorm Sandy, the presidential election, and worries about the narrowly avoided "fiscal cliff" could lead to some unexpected results.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.5% to 10,548.56 as the yen crept upwards against the US dollar.

The rebound in the yen led some investors to sell export shares that had surged as the currency weakened in recent weeks. Isuzu Motors fell 3% while Mazda Motor lost 3.9%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.4% to 23,239.64. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.4% to 2,003.35 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.1% to 4,712.70. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand fell, while Indonesia and the Philippines rose. Mainland Chinese shares were mixed.

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