Asia markets were mostly lower on September's first trading day, with sentiment weighed by sharp overnight declines in oil prices and as traders shrugged off a better-than-expected reading on China's manufacturing sector.
Traders were also looking ahead to Friday's key U.S. nonfarm payroll report.
Australia's ASX 200 index closed down 17.43 points, or 0.32 percent, at 5,415.60, with the energy sector down 1.64 percent and the materials sector off 1.65 percent.
Major indexes in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines also traded lower in late-afternoon trade local time.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index closed higher by 185.46 points, or 0.81 percent, at 23,162.34, finishing at levels not seen since August 2015. Chinese mainland markets finished lower, with the Shanghai composite down 22.51 points, or 0.73 percent, at 3,062.97, while the Shenzhen composite was off 15.40 points, or 0.75 percent, at 2,017.46.
China markets didn't react much to a government survey of large enterprises in the manufacturing sector, which showed an uptick in factory activity. The official manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) rose to 50.4, beating a Reuters forecast for 49.9 and the July print of 49.9. Levels above 50 indicate expansion, while levels below 50 indicate contraction.
A separate private survey of small-to-medium sized companies, however, revealed stagnating operating conditions. The Caixin China general manufacturing PMI for August came in at 50.0, below July's read of 50.6.
"The stagnation that follows tentative signs of recovery in July may have been caused by a temporary tightening of proactive fiscal policies," said Zhengsheng Zhong, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group, in a statement. "Downward pressure on China's economy remains and government support to stabilize growth must continue."
Both sets of data were largely ignored by traders in Asian hours, which CIBC Capital Markets' foreign-exchange strategist Patrick Bennett said could suggest traders were "presently comfortable on their outlook for the [Chinese] economy."
Bennett added in a Thursday note that while the current situation in China showed moderate activity levels, it was still prone to downside risks from factors including overcapacity, weak external demand and high levels of corporate debt that would make provision of further monetary stimulus unlikely.
Asia's mostly downbeat trading session followed a lower finish in U.S. equity markets on the last trading day of August, weighed by a sharp drop in oil prices.
"While tight ranges remain the theme ahead of payrolls on Friday, equity markets have ended [August] on a downbeat mood," Rodrigo Catril, a currency strategist at the National Australia Bank, said.
"The sharp fall in oil prices appears to have been the trigger ... on the back of news that U.S. crude oil stockpiles increased to another record high."