Asian stocks traded mixed on Monday, as investors weighed the possibility of Beijing allowing the yuan to depreciate further and data which showed Japan's economy contracted in the second quarter.
Prior to the market open, the People's Bank of China (PBoC) fixed the 's official midpoint at 6.3969 against the dollar, weaker than the yuan's close of 6.3918 in the previous trading session, but stronger than Friday's fix of 6.3975. As a result, the Chinese currency edged up marginally against the greenback in Asian trade, last seen at 6.3936, after posting its biggest weekly loss on record last week.
Wall Street ended a volatile trading week higher on Friday after the release of upbeat economic data and as euro zone finance ministers agreed to launch a third bailout program for Greece. The and the S&P 500 added 0.4 percent each, while the tech-heavy ended 0.3 percent higher on Friday.
Mainland indices mostly up
China's Shanghai Composite index turned positive in the afternoon trading session to eventually close up 0.7 percent. The CSI 300 index eked out marginal gains, while the smaller Shenzhen Composite edged up 0.7 percent.
Airlines were among the day's gainers, with China Eastern Airlines surging 10 percent after its interim net profit surged to 3.6 billion yuan, compared to just 15 million yuan a year ago.
Meanwhile, Air China bounced up 8.9 percent, while China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines reversed losses to close up 10 and 3.7 percent, respectively. Airline stocks have been sold-off in the preceding week, on the back of worries that a weaker yuan could increase the borrowing costs and the fuel bills of Chinese carriers.
The country's largest residential real estate developer Vanke receded 1.3 percent in Shenzhen and 3 percent in Hong Kong, despite delivering a 5.5 percent rise in its core profit in the first six months.
Meanwhile, the index retreated 0.7 percent.
Nikkei gains 0.5%
Japan's Nikkei 225 index edged up as the country's growth data for the second quarter came in better than expectations.
Released before the market open on Monday, data showed Japan's economy shrank at an annualized pace of 1.6 percent in the April-June period, better than a Reuters' estimate of 1.9 percent contraction but well below a revised 4.5 percent expansion in the first three months of 2015.
On a quarter-on-quarter basis, growth declined 0.4 percent in the second quarter, versus a 0.5 percent contracted expected by economists.
Kikkoman Corp topped the leaderboard with a rise of 5.1 percent, after SMBC Nikko Securities raised the target price for the stock to 3,600 yen from 2,970 yen.
ASX adds 0.2%
Australia's S&P ASX 200 index moved up from a six-month closing low hit in the previous session, thanks to stellar gains in specific counters.
Rare earths mining company Lynas surged as much as 20 percent before closing up 11.4 percent, following an announcement of a restructure of its long-term debts. Gold producer Newcrest Mining climbed 4.5 percent after its earnings report showed improved profit for the year to June 30.
Shares of Aurizon Holdings advanced 3.6 percent after the coal hualer reported a 15 percent rise in profit and raised its dividend payout ratio well above expectations on Monday.
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Bank of Australia underperformed the financial sector, closing down 0.5 percent on its first day of trade, since being halted last Tuesday due to the launch of a $5 billion rights issue.
Kospi drops 0.8%
South Korea's Kospi index closed down on its first day of trading, following an extended weekend.
Among losers, blue-chip steelmaker Posco tanked 2.4 percent, and market bellwether Samsung Electronics, which is set to roll out two new large-screen smartphone models this week, lost as much as 3.2 percent to 1,104,000 , the lowest since October 2014.
Shares of Hyundai Motor closing down 0.7 percent in choppy trade.
Southeast Asia down
On the domestic data front, Singapore's non-oil domestic exports (NODX) dropped lesser than expected in July, thanks to a jump in pharmaceuticals shipments.
Meanwhile, Thailand's economy expanded 0.4 percent in April-June from the previous quarter, slightly more than expected. On a year-on-year basis, gross domestic product (GDP) was 2.8 percent, in line with the median forecast in a Reuters poll.
Thai shares tread water following the GDP print.