Asia markets mixed as US and Canada agree on renewed NAFTA

  • On Sunday, a senior U.S. administration official said the United States and Canada had reached a deal to replace NAFTA.
  • The new deal, which according to the official has been called the USMCA — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, came as negotiators from Ottawa and Washington raced to meet a U.S.-imposed Sept. 30 deadline.
  • A series of data releases showed a slowdown in China's manufacturing sector in September.
  • The weaker-than-expected data came as the U.S.-China trade war continues to escalate with no end in sight.

Asia markets were mixed on Monday as the U.S. and Canada announced that they had reached a deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The Nikkei 225 ended the trading day higher by 0.52 percent at 24,245.76 while the Topix recovered to close largely flat at 1,817.96, as shares of major automakers such as Toyota and Nissan saw declines.

The moves in Tokyo came on the back of the release of a survey conducted by the Bank of Japan which showed business confidence among the country's big manufacturers falling for the third consecutive quarter.

"It was a slight disappointment, no doubt about it, on the Tankan survey, but again in the larger context (it was) still very close to 10-year highs," Divya Devesh, Asia foreign exchange strategist at Standard Chartered Bank, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Monday.

"At least for the next six to 12 months, there's no signs of (the) Bank of Japan even thinking about (a) policy exit," Devesh said.

In South Korea, the Kospi recovered partially from its losses but still closed lower by 0.18 percent, despite a private survey showing factory activity expanding in September for the first time since March. Shares of SK Innovation, however, surged 3.72 percent after the company said it was considering the establishment of an electric vehicle battery plant in the U.S.

Down Under, the ASX 200 slipped by 0.57 percent to close at 6,172.3, with most sectors in negative territory. The heavily weighted financial sector fell 1.33 percent, with shares of Commonwealth Bank of Australia sliding by 1.39 percent and AMP down by 2.19 percent.

The moves in the financial sector Down Under came on the back of an interim report by Australia's Royal Commission into misconduct in the banking and financial services industry, which included instances of bribery, fraud, fee-gouging and board-level deception within the sector.

The Chinese and Hong Kong markets were closed on Monday.

The U.S. and Canada reach a trade deal at the 'eleventh hour'

On Sunday, a senior U.S. administration official said the United States and Canada had reached a deal to replace NAFTA.

The new deal, which according to the official has been called the USMCA — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, came as negotiators from Ottawa and Washington raced to meet a U.S.-imposed Sept. 30 deadline.

"It's good news all around," Debra Steger, a professor at the University of Ottawa, said to CNBC's Nancy Hungerford this morning.

Terming the deal as one that "happened at the eleventh hour on the last day," Steger said the new agreement appeared to be a "win-win for all three countries."

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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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Slowdown in China's manufacturing sector

On Sunday, the release of data showed growth in China's manufacturing sector slowing down in September, with both external and domestic demand weakening. The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index — which focuses on small and medium-sized firms in China — fell to 50.0 in September from 50.6 in August. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a reading of 50.5 on average.

The data comes as the U.S.-China trade war continues to escalate, with new tariffs imposed between the two countries on Sept. 24 and Washington threatening to slap tariffs on virtually all Chinese imports into the United States.

S&P sees best quarter since 2013

In market action on Wall Street last Friday, the S&P 500 saw its best quarterly gain since the fourth quarter of 2013, rising 7.2 percent. The Nasdaq Composite also saw a 7.1 percent gain for the quarter while the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced by 9.3 percent. The gains came even though the three indexes closed little changed for the trading day on Friday.

Currencies and oil

In currency news, the U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of peers, was at 95.277 as of 3:11 p.m. HK/SIN, close to its high from last Friday.

The Japanese yen weakened further at 113.98 against the dollar, while the Australian dollar also slipped to $0.7214, as of 3:09 p.m. HK/SIN.

In the oil markets, prices eased off their earlier highs continued to trend upward in the afternoon of Asian trade. As of 3:08 p.m. HK/SIN, the global benchmark Brent crude futures contract was higher by 0.3 percent at $82.98 per barrel, while the U.S. crude futures contract was higher by 0.18 percent at $73.38 percent per barrel.

— CNBC's Fred Imbert and Reuters contributed to this report.