Asia markets mixed as Nikkei closes up 0.8%, Shanghai falls 0.7%

Asia markets were mixed on Monday after most were shut for Good Friday, with a weaker yen helping to bolster Japan shares.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 closed up 131.62 points, or 0.77 percent, at 17,134.37, while the Topix added 15.80 points, or 1.16 percent, to 1,381.85. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi closed nearly flat at 1,982.54.

Chinese markets fell in late-afternoon trade, with the Shanghai composite reversing gains to close down 21.59 points, or 0.72 percent, at 2,957.84, while the Shenzhen composite fell 10.52 points, or 0.55 percent, to 1,874.65.

Markets in the U.S. reopen on Monday after being closed for Good Friday. Markets in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong remain closed today.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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On the currency front, fresh strength in the greenback helped to push down the yen, with the dollar/yen pair trading at 113.52 in the afternoon local time, compared with 113.04 on Friday.

Stephen Innes, a senior foreign-exchange trader for Asia Pacific at OANDA, said in a note Monday that fiscal year-end repatriation flows could cap the current dollar/yen move higher. Japan's fiscal year ends March 31.

Japanese exporters ended the session higher, with shares of Toyota up 0.7 percent, Nissan up 0.92 percent and Honda adding 0.55 percent. Usually a weaker yen is a positive for exporters as it boosts their overseas profits when converted into local currency.

Down Under, the Australian dollar climbed against the U.S. dollar, trading at $0.7525 in the evening local time, not far from levels as high as $0.7533 on Friday, but off lows around $0.7490 touched earlier in the day.

The Chinese yuan was nearly flat against the dollar, with the dollar/yuan pair at 6.5143.

The dollar has been edging higher on the idea that the Federal Reserve could give serious consideration to a rate hike at its April meeting. Pushing that thinking — and the dollar — is the Fed itself. A handful of Fed officials have said in the past week that a rate hike could be coming soon.

Men sit at trading terminals displaying share prices at a securities exchange house in Shanghai, China.
Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Men sit at trading terminals displaying share prices at a securities exchange house in Shanghai, China.

In corporate news, Sharp shares closed up 3.97 percent after Reuters cited sources saying the troubled electronics maker is set to sign its takeover deal by Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn by this week. In recent weeks, the deal had stalled after Sharp revealed around $2.66 billion of previously undisclosed contingent liabilities.

Elsewhere, Dow Jones reported Daniel Loeb's Third Point investment firm sent a letter to the Japanese retail store operator Seven & I holdings, urging its board to make any succession plan based on the interests of shareholders. Dow Jones reported that while the investment firm doesn't endorse any particular candidate, it said the president of Seven-Eleven Japan, Ryuichi Isaka, was qualified to be a leading candidate to replace Seven & i's current chief executive officer.

Shares of Seven & i finished up 1.97 percent.

U.S. crude futures were up 1.27 percent at $39.97 a barrel as of 2:31 p.m. HK/SIN time.

Energy plays in Asia were mixed, with shares of Inpex closing down 0.41 percent, Fuji Oil higher by 2.14 percent and Chinese mainland shares of Sinopec adding 0.31 percent.

This week sees a slew of important data releases, with investors looking ahead to U.S. non-farm payroll numbers for March and the Bank of Japan's Tankan survey of business sentiment, both due Friday.

No major economic data are due today.

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Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that U.S. markets are open on Monday.