Asian Markets Mostly Higher, But Australia Slips

Asian markets were mostly higher Monday as financial sector uncertainty lingered ahead of a slew of company earnings. Exporters advanced on the back of a stronger U.S. dollar which rose to a one-month high.

The dollar rose on Friday as upbeat readings on U.S. durable goods orders, new-home sales, and a rebound in consumer sentiment from a 28-year low allayed some concerns over the health of the world's top economy.

Meanwhile, oil prices hovered near 7-week lows as high fuel prices continue to batter demand, easing concerns over the economic impact of high oil prices.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Average edged up 0.1 percent as investors picked up recently battered trading companies such as Mitsui & Co, but the market's gains were held in check by a sharp fall in Advantest after its dismal results. The Nikkei gave up much of its earlier gains as investors remained cautious before more earnings reports due in both the United States and Japan and a raft of important economic data including the U.S. payrolls report.

Seoul shares ended steady after trading in negative territory most of the session on worries about the tech sector outlook, but solid Samsung SDI results boosted sentiment and trimmed losses by technology issues.

Australian shares fell nearly 1 percent as a profit warning from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group deepened concerns about credit market losses, sparking further selling in the banking sector. ANZ, Australia's third-biggest lender, dropped 11 percent after it said its provisions in the second half were likely to be around A$1.2 billion ($1.1 billion) due to the ongoing deterioration in global credit markets.

Hong Kong shares closed lower by 0.2 percent, despite a rally in energy stocks. Volumes remained wafer-thin on caution ahead of slew of economic data from the United States. Yanzhou Coal jumped after the coal miner said its first half net profit is estimated to have increased over 220 percent on strong prices of the commodity.

Singapore's Straits Times Index ended 0.4 percent lower with blue chips performing mixed.

China's Shanghai Composite Index was 1.3 percent higher, led by banks and property shares, after a meeting of the Communist Party leadership appeared to shift economic policy slightly towards sustaining growth from fighting inflation. The party's Politburo said in a statement late on Friday that curbing inflation was a priority, but it also stressed the need to "maintain stable but rapid economic growth", and analysts said its overall tone was less hawkish about curbing growth to fight inflation than previous statements.