Asian shares eased on Monday as growth concerns prevailed ahead of the third-quarter corporate earnings season.
The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> edged down 0.1 percent. Australian shares <.AXJO> were steady while South Korean equities <.KS11> were off 0.2 percent.
U.S. stocks wrapped up their worst week in four months, led lower on Friday by financial shares. More financial institutions will report earnings in coming days, including Citigroup , Goldman Sachs and Bank of America , amid concerns about their shrinking profit margins.
Tokyo's Nikkei stock average <.N225> opened down 0.2 percent. <.T>
"Current expectations for weaker third-quarter earnings was partially accounted for in last week's drops in the main index, and the actual earnings reports might not be a great shock in the stock market," said Park Jung-sup, an analyst at Daishin Securities, referring to South Korean equities.
The U.S. economy has shown signs of recovery with the unemployment rate dipping to its lowest level since President Barack Obama took power and consumer sentiment reaching a five-year high on Friday.
Data over the weekend from China, the world's second-largest economy after the United States, also offered some positive news, suggesting government moves to underpin growth are working and additional policy action may not be needed.
China's broad M2 money supply rose more than expected in September while its exports grew at roughly twice the rate expected in September.
China's imports of iron ore reached their highest level in 20 months in September as buyers took advantage of falling iron ore prices <.IO62-CNI=SI> to replenish stocks, and copper and crude oil imports also rose.
"The better than expected upswing in Chinese exports follows similar outcomes for Taiwan and Korea and may be consistent with a bottoming in global manufacturing PMIs in suggesting a possible stabilisation or improvement in global growth," said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital.
China's fiscal and monetary stimulus will be appropriate to counter the country's economic slowdown and avoid any negative fallout, a central bank deputy governor said in Tokyo on Sunday.
Commodity currencies failed to cling to an early lift, with the Australian dollar falling 0.4 percent to $1.0221, close to a near three-month low of $1.0149 plumbed a week ago.
U.S. crude oil futures fell 0.8 percent to $91.16 a barrel and Brent was down 0.5 percent at $114.
The Chinese data were insufficient to completely dispel concerns about the slowdown as the euro zone's prolonged debt crisis drags on global economic expansion.
The euro remained pressured, easing 0.2 percent to $1.2932 as Europe muddles through debt relief measures for struggling Spain and Greece.
expects to agree a new austerity package with its lenders and for the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to bridge their differences on how to cut the country's debt by the time EU leaders meet on October 18-19, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said.
Euro zone officials are considering new ways to reduce Greece's huge debts because delays to reforms by Athens and continued recession have put the target of a debt to GDP ratio of 120 percent in 2020 out of reach, euro zone officials said.
Euro zone officials also said Spain could ask for financial aid from the euro zone in November and if it does the request would likely be dealt with alongside a revised loan programme for Greece and a bailout for Cyprus in one big package.
Hedge funds and other big speculators piled into the rallying gold and natural gas markets for a second week running, taking the net long money in U.S. commodities up by nearly $1 billion, according to the data issued by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Friday.
Asian credit markets were subdued, with the spread on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment-grade index little changed.
(Additional reporting by Ian Chua in Sydney and Joyce Lee in Seoul)