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Weak US jobs hurt Tokyo shares, but rest of Asia rise

Asian stocks outside Japan rose on Monday as investors believed that an unexpectedly weak nonfarm payrolls report will delay interest rate hikes in the U.S.

Released at the end of last week, the United States added 126,000 jobs in March, the weakest since 2013 and below expectations of 245,000 in a Reuters poll. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.5 percent, in line with expectations, while wages increased slightly more than estimated at 0.3 percent. Equity futures were off about 1 percent on Friday.

The employment report affirms market views that September could be the earliest time frame for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates from record lows, analysts say.

"We do not view faster wage growth as a precondition to Fed tightening, although more rapid wage growth would certainly make the committee's decision easier. We continue to forecast the first rate hike in September," Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Capital, wrote in a note.

Wall Street was shuttered for the Good Friday holiday last week, alongside major markets in Europe and most parts of Asia. Thinner trade is seen throughout Monday, as Australia and New Zealand remain closed for Easter Monday. Bourses in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are shut for the Ching Ming Festival, while Bangkok celebrates the Chakri Memorial Day.

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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Nikkei drops 0.2%

Japan's Nikkei 225 underperformed the region, with the dent in sentiment largely attributable to the less-than-stellar nonfarm payrolls data.

Among losers, Toshiba plunged nearly 5 percent, stung by news that it would appoint a committee to investigate possible problems with its accounting. Toyota Motor notched down 1.1 percent after announcing plans to restart plant building following a three-year freeze. Media reports said the automaker plans to spend $1.25 billion on factories in Mexico and China.

Electronics makers helped to cap losses; Sharp jumped 6.1 percent following news that the loss-making firm may spin off its LCD panel business and seek funding from government-backed Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ). Sony advanced 0.9 percent despite the Nikkei business daily reported that the company may cut more than half of its management-level workers.

Meanwhile, shares of Tomony Holdings rallied 1.3 percent on news that it is merging with Taisho Bank as early as next Spring. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, which holds a 25 percent stake in Taisho Bank, finished 0.9 percent lower.

Read MoreAsian central banks back in action this week

Kospi flat

South Korea's Kospi index pared nearly all of its advances by the end of Monday, as losses in other heavyweights offset the rally in Samsung Electronics' stock. The index's heaviest-weighted stock closed up 2.5 percent ahead of the release of its guidance on first-quarter earnings due at 8.30 am local time on Tuesday.

"We are becoming much more warmed up [to the stock] in recent times primarily because of the 'multi-faceted resurgence' of Samsung. One of them is the handsets obviously and its DRAM space has been doing well," Kunal Ghosh, emerging market portfolio manager at Allianz Global Investors, told CNBC.

"Samsung is firing on quite a few cylinders correctly so it is one of our core picks," he added

Hyundai Motor and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors lost 2.4 and 1.5 percent, respectively, while Posco tanked 1.5 percent after having rallied in the previous session.

Read MoreAsia infrastructure spurs investment opportunities

Southeast Asia up

Stock bourses in Southeast Asia were buoyant on Monday, with the exception of Singapore's Straits Times index, which hovered in neutral territory.

The FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Composite Index elevated 0.5 percent to a more than four-month high, while Philippine stocks hit all-time highs above the record 8,000 mark.

Shares of Indonesian lenders Bank Pundi Indonesia and Bank MNC Internasional soared 33.9 and 9 percent, respectively, on the back of merger plans. The broader Jakarta Composite added 0.5 percent by late afternoon trade.