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Asia Pacific markets were mixed on Monday as investors digested better-than-expected jobs data in the U.S. and reports of progress in trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing.
The broad MSCI Asia-ex Japan index made marginal gains to 540.10, as of 3:24 p.m. HK/SIN.
Mainland Chinese stocks were mostly lower on the day, with the Shanghai composite declining slightly to 3,244.81 and the Shenzhen composite falling 0.551% to 1,770.20. The Shenzhen component, on the other hand, was 0.11% higher at 10,351.86.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 0.32% in its final hour of trading.
Over in South Korea, the Kospi closed fractionally higher at 2,210.60.
Korean Air Lines said on Monday that its chairman, Cho Yang-ho, passed away — weeks after he was ousted from the Korean Air board. The carrier has been hit in recent years by a series of scandals involving its founding family members, culminating in the indictment of Cho last year on charges of embezzlement and breach of trust. Cho had denied the charges against him.
Shares of Korean Air Lines and Hanjin Transportation — where Cho also served as chairman — jumped 1.88% and 15.12%, respectively. Hanjin KAL, the holding company for the Hanjin Group conglomerate where Cho was chairman, saw gains of 20.63%.
Australia's advanced 0.65% to close at 6,221.40 as almost all sectors gained.
The U.S. economy added 196,000 jobs in March, according to government data released Friday, beating economists' prediction of 175,000 jobs.
The strong jobs print for March "really killed the fears that people had a month ago"
"I think that really killed the fears that people had a month ago after that 20,000 number," Richard Jerram, chief economist at Bank of Singapore, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Monday, in reference to concerns that the U.S. economy was "falling off a cliff" after the previous jobs data showed growth of just 20,000 in February. That number was revised higher to 33,000 in the March report.
Jerram described calls for rate cuts or more stimulus as "crazy."
"The economy is still in ... really good shape," he said, characterizing the slowdown in the U.S. economy as "moderate at worst."
"With the most recent payrolls data, the positive, non-inflationary growth story continues for the U.S.," Jack Chambers from ANZ Research said in a morning note.
"The Fed remains firm that monetary policy will continue to be set along established, independent lines with the Fed currently data dependent," Chambers said.
Investors also continued to monitor developments on U.S.-China trade.
On Saturday, Chinese official broadcaster CCTV reported that there was "new progress" in trade talks that wrapped in Washington on Friday, Reuters reported. U.S. and Chinese officials were said to have discussed draft agreement text on contentious issues such as technology transfer, protection of intellectual property rights, and the bilateral trade balance, among others.
"The mood music continues to be quite positive, though the market awaits a 'deal'," David de Garis, director of economics and markets at the National Australia Bank, wrote in a morning note.
On the Brexit front, British Prime Minister Theresa May continues to face challenges in securing a deal for her country that is agreeable with Parliament. The U.K. is set to bow out of the European Union later in April unless May is able to secure another extension of the deadline for Britain.
The British pound last traded at $1.3060 after seeing highs above $1.314 last week.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of its peers, traded at 97.301, slipping from earlier highs but still above levels near 97.00 seen last week.
Among other currency pairs, the traded at 111.44 to the dollar, after touching levels below 111.00 in the previous week. The was at $0.7096 after seeing lows around the $0.705 handle last week.
Oil prices rose to five-month highs on Monday, driven by supply cuts. The gains were largely sustained in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with the international benchmark Brent crude futures contract adding 0.51% to $70.70 per barrel and U.S. crude futures advancing 0.52% to $63.41 per barrel.
— Reuters contributed to this report.