Asian stocks mostly lower as US earnings eyed

HONG KONG: Asian stocks were mostly lower Monday amid caution ahead of earnings announcements from large U.S. companies that could shed light on the state of the world's largest economy.

Oil prices, meanwhile, climbed above $72 a barrel and the dollar gained against the yen and euro after falling steeply last week.

Global investors are eyeing third-quarter earnings announcements and forecasts for the coming quarters for signs the U.S. economy is on a sounder footing. After aluminum maker Alcoa Inc. kicked earnings season off with results that topped expectations, major banks like JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. will be releasing their reports, as will Google Inc. and General Electric Co.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 9.72 points, or 0.1 percent, at 21,485.06 and South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.6 percent to 1,635.51. Australia's benchmark index fell 0.3 percent and Taiwan was also down 0.3 percent. Japan's stock market was closed for a holiday.

Elsewhere, Singapore's index was up 0.7 percent after the government narrowed its forecast for economic contraction this year and said the economy grew for the second straight quarter in the July to September period. China's Shanghai index was up 0.3 percent at 2,919.24.

Wall Street finished a strong week on a high note Friday.

The Dow rose 78.07, or 0.8 percent, to 9,864.94, its highest close since Oct. 6 last year.

The S&P 500 index rose 6.01, or 0.6 percent, to 1,071.49, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 15.35, or 0.7 percent, to 2,139.28.

U.S. futures augured a mediocre opening on Wall Street Monday. Dow futures were down 3 points at 9,804.

Oil prices rose in Asia, with benchmark crude for November delivery climbing 36 cents to $72.61. The contract rose 8 cents on Friday.

The dollar, which has plunged in recent weeks, ticked up to 90.12 yen from 89.70 yen. The euro was lower at $1.4702 from $1.4725.