Sydney slips 0.1%
Australia's benchmark index retreated from last week's two-and-a-half-month high of 5,116 points as investors digested Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's decision to set a date for general elections and ahead of Tuesday's Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) meeting.
"The election is one week ahead of the original date, which makes no difference to the market. As far as we can see, what will increase volatility is the prospect of another hung parliament. Current polling suggests both major parties are neck and neck. If this does eventuate on polling day, another three years of cautious trade could be on the cards," said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG in a note.
Virgin Australia fell 3 percent after announcing that it expects to report an annual net loss for the first half of the year. Meanwhile, Paladin Energy fell 28 percent after completing a bookbuild for a private share placement.
Retail sales for the month of June came in flat from the previous month, below forecasts for 0.4 percent monthly rise. The weaker-than-expected results sent the Australian dollar briefly skidding to a new three-year low at $0.8846.
(Read more: Here are other ways to play the weak Aussie trade)
Meanwhile, New Zealand's biggest dairy producer, Fonterra, finished 3 percent lower following an earlier 9 percent tumble after announcing that it's whey protein concentrate has been contaminated.
Kospi 0.4% lower
South Korea's benchmark index was weighed down by a 0.9 percent fall in Samsung Electronics after the U.S. government reversed a ruling that had favored Samsung over Apple in their long-running patent battle.
Exporters reversed early losses to gain momentum from a stronger yen, which makes South Korean exports more price-competitive. LG Electronics added 2 percent.
(Read more: If US is rebounding, why are Asian exporters suffering?)
Shares of steelmaker POSCO fell nearly 2 percent despite a rise in steel prices for their Chinese competitors.
— By CNBC.com's Nyshka Chandran. Follow her on Twitter @NyshkaCNBC