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Asian Shares Mixed on Strong US Data

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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Asian stocks closed mixed on Monday after Wall Street hit a five-year high in the previous session as strong economic data buoyed sentiment.

U.S. stocks rose to five-year highs on Friday, with the Dow closing above 14,000 for the first time since October 2007, after jobs and manufacturing data showed the economy's recovery remains on track.

Japan's Nikkei share average climbed for a fifth straight day to a fresh 33-month peak as a softer yen led exporters higher, and hints of a recovery for troubled consumer electronics companies saw Panasonic and Sharp attract buying from retail investors.

The Nikkei rose 0.6 percent to 11,260.35, and the broader Topix gained 1.4 percent to 955.75.

South Korean shares retreated as a strengthening won currency and lackluster earnings sapped away the opening gains that followed Wall Street's rally last week.

(Read More: South Korea Ups the Ante in Looming Currency War)

The benchmark KOSPI fell 0.2 percent to close at 1,953.21 points, falling for the third straight session, and nearing a recent low hit on January 28th.

Automaker Kia Motors shed 2.5 percent as worries about its vulnerability to the strengthening currency hit its share price.

Australian shares lost their grip on early gains to end 0.3 percent lower, pulled down by weaker-than-expected housing data, slow job advertising and technical resistance.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index hit an intraday high of 4,951 but ended down 13.6 points at 4,907.5.

Analysts said the index hit technical resistance after rallying 6 percent this year. It has surged 13.6 percent since the November 19 2012 low as investors look for better returns as interest rates decline.

Instead, surprisingly weak economic data added to the sell-off. Building approvals skidded 4.4 percent in December versus forecasts of a 1 percent rise, while job advertising fell again in January, indicating sluggish demand for labor.

(Read More: Will Australia Deliver a Surprise Rate Cut?)

The major banks were mostly lower, led down by Westpac Banking off 1.3 percent.

Shares in Aquila Resources tumbled nearly 10 percent after it put its A$7.4 billion ($7.7 billion) West Pilbara iron ore project on ice at least through June due to funding difficulties.

Aquila shares ended down 3.9 percent at A$3.00.

Iron Ore Holdings initially slumped more than 7 percent after the firm reached agreement with Fortescue Metals Group on the early termination of Fortescue's exclusive option on Iron Valley, to develop an integrated mine. The shares ended down 2.9 percent at A$0.825. Fortescue ended flat at A$4.79.

Shares in Qantas Airways slipped initially but ended unchanged after the airline outlined a new strategy for Asian markets, including adding flights and capacity to Hong Kong and Singapore, and flying to new destinations.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index ended up half a point at 4,246.4.

China shares climbed to a successive multi-month high, helped by strength in coal-related counters as investors welcomed local media reports of a new policy aimed at more sustainable mining practices.

(Read More: China's Rancid Haze Puts Spotlight on Oil Giants)

The CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings ended up 0.2 percent at 2,748 points, its highest close since November 2011. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.4 percent.

Both indexes posted their best weekly showing in 15 months last week, helped by a strong surge on Friday.

Hong Kong shares reversed early gains as investors took profit on Chinese insurers after mainland regulators approved HSBC's sale of its remaining stake in Ping An Insurance.

The Hang Seng Index ended down 0.2 percent at 23,685 points, faltering at chart resistance around 23,900 for the second time in four days. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong shed 0.5 percent.

Shares of Bank of China climbed 1 percent to its highest close since June 2011. Gains nearing 43 percent from a September 5 low have now prodded BOC's relative strength index (RSI) values to its most overbought level since October 2010.

Ping An Insurance dropped 2.8 percent to HK$68.90 in an intra-day reversal, but stayed above the HK$59 per share level that HSBC had priced its stake sale. Late on Friday, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission approved the sale of HSBC's remaining $7.4 billion stake in the mainland's second-largest insurer to a group controlled by Thailand's richest man.

Over in Southeast Asia, Singapore's Straits Times Index and Malaysia's KLCI Composite Index rose 0.2 and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Shares of Malaysia's MISC Bhd rose as much as 17 percent after the shipping firm's major shareholder Petroliam Nasional Bhd made an 8.8 billion Malaysian ringgit ($2.8 billion) buyout offer, equal to 5.30 ringgit per share.

Lastly, in India, the benchmark BSE Index ended down 0.2 percent, while the NSE finished lower 0.2 percent.