Shares of troubled Japanese airbag maker Takata beat the generally downward trend to climb 1.10 percent, after a Wall Street Journal report that it is on the verge of hiring attorney Kenneth Feinberg to sort through claims for its $125 million compensation fund for victims of faulty air bags.
Feinberg ran a similar program for GM and oversaw compensation funds for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, the Journal reported.
Last month, Takata agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud and pay a total of $1 billion in criminal penalties stemming from its fraudulent conduct in relation to sales of defective airbag inflators. It announced it will establish two restitution funds: a $125 million fund for individuals physically injured by the faulty airbags who have yet to reach a settlement with Takata, as well as a $850 million fund to shoulder the airbag recall and replacement costs incurred by affected auto manufacturers.
Elsewhere, SoftBank shares fell 2.41 percent, despite news the internet and telecom giant is close to finalizing an investment in WeWork. A source told CNBC the deal is expected to be worth over $3 billion.
In South Korea, the Kospi closed down 8.60 points, or 0.41 percent, at 2,085.52. Australia's benchmark ASX 200 finished down 14.80 points, or 0.26 percent, at 5,724.18. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.26 percent in late-afternoon trade, while Chinese mainland shares finished lower. The Shanghai composite fell 24.26 points, or 0.75 percent, to 3,229.17, while the Shenzhen composite was down 11.60 points, or 0.58 percent, at 1,988.77.
"Market positioning over the last week has been to cut back on Trump-trades," said Weiliang Chang, a currency strategy at Mizuho Bank, adding traders were beginning to doubt whether Trump will carry out his promise on infrastructure investment and the timely implementation of his tax reforms.
"Given the diminished expectations, we are hopeful that Trump, with the help of his speechwriters, could imbue optimism back into markets over his proposed tax reforms in his speech to Congress," Chang said in a note.
Samsung Electronics — the flagship brand of Samsung Group — closed down 0.42 percent, as South Korea's largest conglomerate seeks to overcome its involvement in an influence peddling scandal, while also recovering from last year's exploding Galaxy Note 7 fiasco.
On Sunday, Samsung announced its next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8, will be unveiled on March 29.
Meanwhile, the dollar index last traded at 101.09. Among other currency majors, the Australian dollar fetched $0.7687 at 3:47 p.m. HK/SIN.
Oil prices traded higher Monday afternoon during Asian hours, with U.S. crude up 0.7 percent at $54.37 a barrel, while global benchmark Brent gained 0.86 percent to $56.47.