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Asia trades mixed amid growing concerns over global growth

Key Points
  • Asia Pacific markets traded mixed  on Monday as investors remained cautious over a possible global economic slowdown after important data in the United States and China missed expectations last week.
  • Government data in the U.S. showed the world's largest economy added just 20,000 jobs in February versus an expected gain of 180,000, marking the weakest month of jobs creation since September 2017.
  • Meanwhile, Chinese customs data showed exports fell 20.7 percent on-year last month, missing economists' expectations of a 4.8 percent decline.
Seung-il Ryu | NurPhoto | Getty images

Asia Pacific markets traded mixed on Monday as investors remained cautious over a possible global economic slowdown after important data in the United States and China missed expectations last week.

Chinese mainland shares traded up: The Shanghai composite gained 1.92 percent to 3,026.99 while the Shenzhen composite was up 3.89 percent at 1,667.81.

The on-shore yuan was near flat at 6.7224 against the dollar, retreating from an earlier level of 6.7244. The People's Bank of China is expected to ease monetary policy further to encourage lending as it seeks to support the country's slowing economy. Its head, Governor Yi Gang, reportedly said on Sunday the central bank will not use the exchange rate to boost its exports or as a tool in trade frictions.

Japan's Nikkei 225 see-sawed between gains and losses to finish up 0.47 percent at 21,125.09 while the Topix index added 0.57 percent to 1,581.44.

Nissan shares advanced 1.11 percent as the company's former boss, Carlos Ghosn, is reportedly seeking permission from the Tokyo District Court to attend the automaker's board meeting on Tuesday, Reuters said, citing a source.

Ghosn, the former Nissan chairman, was released from a detention center in Tokyo last week on $9 million in bail after being detained for more than 100 days on financial misconduct charges. He has called those charges "meritless."

In South Korea, the Kospi was near flat at 2,138.10 while major indexes in Singapore and Malaysia struggled for gains in afternoon trade. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index traded up 0.93 percent. Indian stocks rose after the country on Sunday announced it will hold parliamentary election in seven stages starting April 11. The Nifty 50 was up 1.09 percent while the Indian rupee traded around 69.91 to the dollar at 3:21 p.m. HK/SIN, strengthening from levels above 70.40 last week.

The in Australia fell 0.38 percent to 6,180.20 as most sectors declined. The energy sector was down 1.55 percent as oil stocks retreated: Shares of Santos were down 2.16 percent, Oil Search lower by 1.99 percent and Woodside Petroleum declined 1.73 percent.

Oil prices were under pressure on Friday following data that showed U.S. job gains came to a grinding halt in February while Chinese imports and exports last month slumped. The European Central Bank also slashed its growth outlook for the euro zone.

U.S. crude rose 0.66 percent to $56.44 a barrel on Monday afternoon during Asian hours while international benchmark Brent was up 0.58 percent at $66.12.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Monday's session followed after the U.S. and China missed expectations on crucial data last Friday, prompting further worries over a global economic slowdown.

Government data in the U.S. showed the world's largest economy added just 20,000 jobs in February versus an expected gain of 180,000, marking the weakest month of jobs creation since September 2017.

"The data is prone to large revisions, and other labour market indicators remain strong," analysts at ANZ Research said in a morning note. "Nonetheless, it is plausible that the more mixed US data in recent months could be starting to flow through into labour demand."

Meanwhile, Chinese customs data showed exports fell 20.7 percent on-year last month, missing economists' expectations of a 4.8 percent decline. Imports dropped 5.2 percent, more than the 1.4 percent predicted fall.

The U.S. dollar traded at 97.364 against a basket of its peers at 2:38 p.m. HK/SIN on Monday, climbing from levels below 97.000 in the previous week.

Among other major currencies, the fetched 111.14 to the dollar, strengthening from previous lows around 111.60 last week. The traded at $0.7042.

— Reuters contributed to this report.