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Asian stock markets down for 3rd day as recent highs, earnings instil caution

Pedestrians are reflected on an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Asian stock markets fell for a third day Wednesday as caution spread ahead of corporate earnings and after record highs on Wall Street. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

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Pedestrians are reflected on an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Asian stock markets fell for a third day Wednesday as caution spread ahead of corporate earnings and after record highs on Wall Street. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO - Asian stock markets fell for a third day Wednesday as caution spread ahead of corporate earnings and after record highs on Wall Street.

The just-started U.S. earnings season as well China's second quarter GDP figures, due next week, will help investors determine whether the recent run up in stock valuations has been justified. The Dow Jones industrial average last week topped 17,000 for the first time in its 118-year history.

"Investors globally have become a bit more cautious," said IG strategist Ryan Huang in a market commentary.

Japan's Nikkei 225 recouped some of its losses earlier in the day to close down 0.1 per cent at 15,302.65, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.6 per cent to 23,169.09.

Seoul's Kospi dropped 0.3 per cent to 2,000.50, and China's Shanghai Composite was down 1.2 per cent at 2,038.61. Markets in Australia and Southeast Asia also fell.

"Every sector on the Australian share market fell today as investors headed for the exits on negative overseas leads," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.

"In a glass half-empty trading environment, investors ignored higher iron ore prices, benign China inflation and a strong start to the US reporting season by Alcoa."

The U.S. earnings season got started after the closing bell Tuesday when aluminum maker Alcoa reported results that were better than investors expected. Wells Fargo, the No. 1 home mortgage lender in the U.S., reports on Friday.

The Dow closed down 117.59 points, or 0.7 per cent, 16,906.62. The Nasdaq fell 60.07 points to 4,391.46. The S&P 500 lost 13.94 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 1,963.71.

The immediate attention of markets is likely to be on the release of minutes later Wednesday from the U.S. Federal Reserve's last policy meeting.

CMC Markets said in a commentary that the minutes are likely to sound more "dovish" than current economic conditions warrant since the Fed's last meeting was before June's strong jobs numbers were released.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery was up 1 cent at $103.41 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 13 cents to close at $103.40 on Tuesday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3621 from $1.3612 late Tuesday. The dollar rose to 101.64 yen from 101.52 yen.

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Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at twitter.com/yurikageyama

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