Asian markets finished mixed Monday, with Sydney down 1.6 percent while Shanghai jumped 4.6 percent. However, sentiment remained weak after credit concerns pushed European indexes lower. The market lacked direction overall as investors waited for the U.S. to reopen after the Independence Day long holiday weekend.
Japan's Nikkei 225 Average reversed course by midday and gained ground to close 1 percent higher on Monday. The positive finish put the brakes on a 12-session decline that marked its longest losing run since 1954. The broader Topix Index ended the session 1.2 percent firmer. Exporters such as Canon and Toyota lent support to the market, after the dollar rose to a one-week high of 107 yen.
Drugstore chain Cosmos Pharmaceutical added to the Index's gains, as the stock surged 10.5 percent after it said full year profits will not fall as much as forecast, thanks to strong sales and cost-cutting.
Magara Construction plunged by its daily limit, down 75 percent to 10 yen, after the construction firm said it had filed for bankruptcy protection as it could not honor its payments due this week. The stock will be delisted on Aug. 6.
South Korea's KOSPI clawed back to positive ground and broke a seven-session losing streak. Hyundai Motor slid 1 percent after it cut its domestic sales target for the year by 6%. The Korean won surged as much as 1.4 percent against the U.S. dollar early on Monday. This followed news that the Bank of Korea and finance ministry had warned of intervention to stabilize the currency in an effort to cool inflation. The construction sector was battered, with shares top builder Hyundai Engineering & Construction plunged 6 percent, on renewed worries about rising costs of materials and an increasing number of unsold homes.
The Australian market was the biggest decliner in the region as weaker metals prices weighed down on resource firms and bank stocks fell on credit worries. The S&P/ASX 200 gave up 1.6 percent, closing just a touch above the 5000 level.
Property shares took a beating after investorGPT Group issued a profit warning. GPT shares plunged as much as 17 percent while Valad Property lost 6.3 percent.
Chinese shares were the best performers as funds dipped into blue chips stocks that were hit hard during the previous month's selloff. The Shanghai Composite Index jumped 4.6 percent as strong earnings estimates from financial plays boosted sentiment.
Shares in China Merchants Bank surged more than 8 percent after the country's sixth-largest lender said its first-half net profit likely more than doubled.
The upbeat sentiment filtered to Hong Kong where the Hang Seng Index reversed early losses to advance 2.3 percent.
Singapore's Straits Times Index climbed 1.45 percent, boosted by gains in big caps such as NOL, SIA and UOB. Water treatment company Hyflux rose as much as 1 percent on news it had launched a S$300 million ($220 million) multi-currency debt programme to raise funds for debt refinancing, expenditure and working capital.
The Singapore Exchange, in conjunction with Singapore Press Holdings and FTSE Group, launched the FTSE ST China Top Index to track the 20 largest Chinese shares listed on the exchange.