Asian markets edged up Monday following a record close on Wall Street at the end of last week, while analysts said data indicating sluggishness in the Chinese economy could prompt fresh stimulus from Beijing.
The dollar maintained Friday's Wall Street gains above 104 yen despite increasing tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine.
Tokyo closed up 0.34 percent, or 52.01 points, at 15,476.60 and Sydney ended slightly higher, adding 3.9 points to 5,629.8.
Shanghai jumped 0.83 percent, or 18.31 points, to 2,235.51 while Hong Kong was slightly higher, adding 10.03 points to 24,752.09.
Seoul closed marginally lower, giving up 0.68 points to 2,067.86.
China said Monday that its official purchasing managers' index (PMI) of manufacturing activity slipped to 51.1 last month. That is down from 51.7 in July -- a more than two-year high -- and the first decline since February.
Anything above 50 indicates growth and anything below suggests contraction.
The latest figure was just above the median 51.0 forecast in a survey of 10 economists by Dow Jones Newswires.
In a separate report, HSBC said its own August PMI came in at 50.2, well off the 51.7 seen the previous month.
However, while the figures were disappointing RBS economist Louis Kuijs said they could usher in more accommodating policy measures.
"Perceiving that its 7.5 percent (gross domestic product) growth target for 2014 is challenged, we expect the government to step up the rollout of measures to support growth," Kuijs said in a note.
- Dealers track Ukraine tensions -
US dealers provided a useful lead, despite worries about a possible military confrontation between Kiev and Moscow after NATO said about 1,000 Russian troops were in Ukraine.
The S&P 500 -- which ended above 2,000 for the first time last week -- rose 0.33 percent to a new record Friday, the Dow added 0.11 percent and the Nasdaq put on 0.50 percent to end at its highest level in 14 years.
While markets were up, investors are keeping an eye on events in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday raised the stakes by calling for the first time for statehood to be discussed for the restive east of the former Soviet state.
The remarks came just hours after the European Union gave Moscow -- accused by the EU of direct involvement in the insurgency -- a week to change course or face new sanctions
Currency traders remained upbeat, supporting the dollar against the yen even though the Japanese unit is considered a safe bet in times of economic and political uncertainty.
In late Asian trade the greenback fetched 104.15 yen, up from 104.06 yen in New York Friday afternoon.
The euro bought $1.3133 and 136.78 yen against $1.3139 and 136.72 yen.
On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October delivery eased 29 cents to $95.65. Brent crude for October dipped 20 cents to $102.99 in afternoon trade.
Gold traded at $1,286.98 an ounce at 1155 GMT, from $1,285.00 late Friday.
In other markets:
-- Mumbai advanced 0.86 percent, or 229.44 points, to end at 26,867.55 points. ABB India rose 10.23 percent to 1,083.15 rupees, while Unitech gained 9.20 percent to 23.75 rupees.
-- Bangkok added 0.24 percent or 3.72 points to 1,565.35.
Telecoms company Advanced Info Service fell 1.44 percent to 206.00 baht, while coal producer Banpu gained 2.33 percent to 33.00 baht.
-- Jakarta ended up 0.79 percent, or 40.76 points, at 5,177.62.
Bank Negara Indonesia rose 0.47 percent to 5,375 rupiah, while Hero Supermarket fell 0.39 percent to 2,540 rupiah.
-- Singapore closed down 0.39 percent, or 12.96 points, at 3,314.13.
United Overseas Bank rose 0.26 percent to Sg$22.99 while real estate developer Capitaland fell 1.21 percent to Sg$3.28.
-- Kuala Lumpur closed down 0.51 percent, or 9.57 points, to finish at 1866.11.
-- Taipei gained 0.81 percent, or 76.79 points, to 9,513.06.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co added 3.63 percent to Tw$128.5 while leading chip design house MediaTek added 3.1 percent to Tw$515.0.
-- Wellington fell 0.15 percent, or 7.90 points, to 5,215.40.
Fletcher Building was down 0.87 percent at NZ$9.12 and Warehouse Group was flat at NZ$3.10.
-- Manila ended 0.46 percent higher, adding 32.60 points to 7,083.49.
Globe Telecom rose 5.06 percent to 1,891 pesos but Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. slipped 3.07 percent to 3,344 pesos.