Asian stock markets declined Tuesday as investors opted for caution ahead of the start of the U.S. corporate earnings season.

Japanese benchmark Nikkei average declined 0.86 percent or 90.95 points to 10,508.06, South Korea’s KOSPI Composite fell 0.66 percent or 13.31 points to 1997.94 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.82 percent or 190.52 points to 23,139.23 while Chinese Shanghai Composite fell 0.41 percent and India’s BSE Sensex slipped 0.14 percent.

The markets opened on a negative note, following the declines on Wall Street Monday as market participants turned their attention to the U.S. fourth quarter earnings season, with Alcoa, the first of the Dow components, is slated to report the quarterly earnings after the market closes Tuesday.

Alcoa earnings are important because America’s biggest aluminum producer is seen as a bellwether for the global economy and unofficially kicks off each U.S. earnings season. Analysts expect a fourth quarter net profit of $0.06 per share on revenue of 5.64 billion compared to a net loss of $0.03 per share on revenue of $5.99 billion in the same quarter last year.

"Trading for the New Year kicked off in full force yesterday and it is natural for investors to start cautiously with profit taking from the New Year’s rally. I expect position adjustments to continue ahead of key events such as the ECB meeting and earnings reports starting with Alcoa," Yuji Saito, director of foreign exchange at Credit Agricole in Tokyo, told Reuters.

Japanese shares ended lower, led by declines from exporter companies’ as the yen strengthened against the U.S. dollar. Japanese Nikkei climbed more than 20 percent in less than two months as the yen plunged nearly 10 percent against the green back on the speculation that the new Japanese government would call for more stimulus measures to beat deflation.

In Tokyo, Nissan Motor Co Ltd. declined 1.06 percent and Nintendo Co Ltd. plunged 3.12 percent while Sony Corp. fell 1.78 percent.

Property and insurance sector shares led the declines in Hong Kong. China Resources Land Ltd. plunged 3.38 percent and China Life Insurance Co. plunged 3.68 percent while Ping An fell 3.94 percent.

In Seoul, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. slipped 1.32 percent and LG Display Co Ltd. plunged 2.16 percent while Hyundai Motor co gained 0.72 percent.