Asian shares were mostly higher Friday, but gains were capped by uncertainty over the stability of emerging markets and the possibility of a military strike against Syria despite indications a delay might be in the offing.
"Shares are vulnerable over the next month or two with various events and risks that could trigger investor nervousness," Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital, said in a note, citing factors including nervousness over the Federal Reserve's September meeting and the U.S. budget negotiations as well as concerns over Syria, Italy and emerging markets.
Japan's Nikkei 225 erased early gains, to end down 0.5 percent after rising as much as 1.2 percent in early trade on upbeat economic data. Exacerbating shares' decline, the yen also reversed course, erasing an early slip to gain ground on the U.S. dollar. The index finished a volatile month down 2.0 percent.
Korea's Kospi ended up 0.5 percent, managing to eke out a 0.6 percent gain for the month despite regional volatility. Australia's S&P ASX 200 finished up 0.8 percent, for a 1.6 percent gain for August.
China's Shanghai Composite ended up 0.1 percent, for a 5.2 percent gain in August; Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index also edged up 0.1 percent for the day, but lost 0.7 percent for the month.