Asia Markets

Asian shares mixed on weak commodity prices

Asian shares traded mixed on the first trading day of the week due to weak global cues and as commodity prices took another tumble. However, activity was light with markets in Japan and Indonesia closed for public holidays.

Spot gold plunged 4 percent to a fresh five-year low in Asian trade as investors bet on a stronger greenback, while copper on the London Metal Exchange traded in sight of six-year lows. Crude oil prices also edged down on Monday after data showed Saudi Arabian exports fell to the lowest in five months despite record output.

Greece's debt crisis remained in the backdrop as banks in the cash-strapped nation prepare to reopen on Monday amid tense bailout negotiations between Athens and foreign creditors. Lenders have been shuttered for three weeks since the end of June to prevent the system collapsing under a flood of withdrawals.

Wall Street ended mixed on Friday; A huge rally in Google took the Nasdaq Composite to a second straight record high, but lower energy prices weighed on the blue-chip Dow and the S&P 500.

Mainland markets choppy

After flirting between gains and losses at the start of trade, China's benchmark Shanghai Composite finished 0.9 percent higher amid fresh commitment of support for the market by the country's securities regulator.

At midday, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) refuted a report by financial magazine Caijing that it was assessing channels to withdraw government funds, calling the report "untrue."

Meanwhile, the People's Bank of China (PBoC) issued guidelines to regulate the development of internet finance, which is widely viewed as a source of market volatility.

Among gainers, index heavyweight PetroChina raced up 4.3 percent, while China Vanke turned positive late in the session to close up nearly 2 percent, outperforming the sector which failed to cheer the latest set of housing data released over the weekend.

In tandem with the decline in the price of precious metal, Shandong Gold and Zhongjin Gold lost 1.7 and 0.8 percent, respectively.

In Hong Kong, Macau Legend Development slumped 3.4 percent after saying it expects a record loss for the six months to June, outpacing the broader Hang Seng Index which stayed near the flatline.

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ASX adds 0.3%

Australia's resource-heavy index ticked up to its highest close since June 25, while the Australian dollar recovered from its lowest level against the greenback since May 2009.

Gold producers were the hardest-hit; Newcrest Mining and Evolution Gold sank more than 10 percent each, while Alacer Gold and Kingsgate Consolidated lost 9.7 and 8.2 percent, respectively.

Major lenders turned positive in the afternoon session, recovering from the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority's decision to raise bank capital requirements for home loans to at least 25 percent, from 16 percent currently, starting July 2016. Australia and New Zealand Banking jumped 1.3 percent percent, while National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank of Australia added 0.4 and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Shares of Sonic Healthcare gave up nearly 3 percent after the medical laboratory-services provider reduced its earnings forecast for the just-ended financial year.

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Kospi sheds 0.2%

South Korea's Kospi index tracked regional sluggishness to close down modestly, while the won ended Asian trade at a two-year low of 1,152.1 against the U.S. dollar.

The heaviest weighted stock, Samsung Electronics, tanked 2.3 percent, contributing significant downside pressure on the bourse.

Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries saw another day of hefty losses, down 3.4 and 2.2 percent, respectively. Shares of both companies went downhill after a majority of the former's shareholders approved a merger with its sister company last Friday.

Chemicals and battery maker LG Chem climbed more than 2 percent earlier in the session following the announcement of a 56 percent rise in second-quarter net profit, but its shares eventually succumbed to the downbeat sentiment and ended down 0.2 percent.

Straits Times adds 0.4%

Singapore shares touched its highest level in seven weeks, thanks to a 7.4 percent jump in shares of Neptune Orient Lines.

The company's stock soared as much as 10 percent earlier in the session after people familiar with the matter said last week Singapore's sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings has put the shipping company up for sale.