HONG KONG (AP) — Most major Asian stock markets were lower Monday but Japan's benchmark rose thanks to the weakening yen, which helped support the country's big exporters.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.6 percent to 9,218.01 as the dollar strengthened versus the yen to its highest in more than a month. Toshiba Corp rose 1.4 percent while Honda Motor Co. rose 0.9 percent.
South Korea's Kospi fell by 0.2 percent to 1,941.88 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.7 percent to 19,973.72. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1 percent to 2,094.25.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was nearly unchanged at 4,371.80. Taiwan's benchmark fell while New Zealand's rose.
Asian markets were mostly drifting lower, lacking direction in the absence of major economic data out this week in Asia and the summer lull.
A senior German politician's comments over the weekend that Greece doesn't have any wiggle room as it carries out reforms also darkened investors' mood over Europe's simmering debt crisis. There's also little chance of Germany's governing coalition supporting a third rescue package, Volker Kauder, a senior ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, was quoted by Der Spiegel as saying.
In the U.S. on Friday, stocks posted small gains on positive news from retailers. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.2 percent to close at 13,275.20. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.2 percent to close at 1,418.16. The Nasdaq rose 0.5 percent to close at 3,076.59.
Crude oil futures were up 36 cents to $96.37 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 41 cents to finish at $96.01 per barrel in New York on Friday.
In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2333 from $1.2322 late Friday in New York. The dollar rose to 79.57 yen from 79.55 yen.