The downbeat figures out of China added to expectations of more stimulus measures in the United States following strong hints from Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke on Friday.
In the afternoon Hong Kong added 0.37% and Shanghai was 0.64% higher, while Sydney gained 0.31%, or 13.6 points, to end at 4,329.7.
Seoul put on 0.40%, or 7.59 points, to 1,912.71 but Tokyo slipped 0.63%, or 56.02 points, to 8,783.89.
Fears over growth in China were stoked again on Saturday when the official purchasing managers’ index (PMI) of manufacturing activity fell to a nine-month low of 49.2 in August from 50.1 in July, owing to slumping demand in the key export markets of Europe and the United States.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while one below 50 points to contraction.
And on Monday a PMI reading from HSBC showed activity fell to its lowest level since March 2009 in August.
The final reading of the British banking giant’s index slid to 47.6 from 49.3 in July.
The results add to rising concerns over China’s economic growth and come despite Beijing cutting interest rates and lowering the amount of cash banks must keep in reserve as it looks to boost activity.
China’s economy grew just 7.6% in the three months to June, the worst performance in three years and the sixth straight slowdown, while figures for trade, industrial output and retail sales in July were also weak.
The latest results will boost expectations of another cut to banks’ reserve requirements or even interest rates.
“The pace of growth has slowed much more than the authorities (in Beijing) expected,” Stephen Halmarick, head of investment markets research at First State Investments, told Dow Jones Newswires.
Global markets posted gains at the start of last month as dealers bet that central banks in China, Europe and the United States would announce fresh stimulus and easing policies, but the lack of action has led to selling pressure in the past few weeks.
In the United States, Bernanke on Friday told central bankers that stagnation in the labour market was “a grave concern” and signalled he would be pushing for more help for the economy.
His comments led to speculation that the Fed would undertake a third round of bond-buying, or quantitative easing, lifting US shares.
The Dow added 0.69%, the S&P 500 rose 0.51% and the Nasdaq climbed 0.60%.
However, Mizuho Securities senior technical analyst Yutaka Miura told Dow Jones Newswires: “Although Bernanke’s comments left hopes in markets, we still find it difficult to foresee when and whether the Fed will really take action.
“The external environment looks uncertain, with the Chinese economy deteriorating. Any aggressive bids may be limited.”
On currency markets the euro bought US$1.2572 in afternoon Tokyo trade from 1.2576 in New York late Friday.
The European currency was also trading at 98.44 yen compared with 98.51 late Friday.
The dollar was at 78.27 yen from 78.31 yen.
Oil eased, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in October, shedding seven US cents to US$96.40 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for October falling 15 US cents to US$114.42.
Gold was at US$1,689.30 at 0605 GMT compared with US$1,658.80 on Friday.
In other markets:
Taipei gained 0.72%, or 53.47 points, to 7,450.53. Hon Hai Precision surged 6.13% to Tw$90.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.72% higher at Tw$83.9.
Wellington closed flat, edging up 2.35 points to 3,669.03.