Asia Markets

Asia shares mostly down as investors watch US-China trade developments

Key Points
  • Shares in Asia were mostly lower on Monday as investors watched for developments on the U.S.-China trade front
  • Markets in Japan were closed on Monday for a holiday.
  • Over in India, shares bucked the overall downward trend regionally as the Nifty 50 and S&P BSE Sensex both jumped more than 3% each, adding to large gains seen last Friday after a surprise tax cut was announced.

Shares in Asia were mostly lower on Monday as investors watched for developments on the U.S.-China trade front

Mainland Chinese shares declined on the day, with the Shanghai composite falling 0.98% to about 2,977.08 and the Shenzhen composite down 0.912% to approximately 1,660.06.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index shed 0.57%, as of its final hour of trading. Shares of companies related to China's Fosun saw declines, following the collapse of the world's oldest travel firm Thomas Cook — the Chinese conglomerate is the largest shareholder in the British firm. Fosun Tourism dropped 4.36% and Fosun International declined 1.34%.

South Korea's Kospi finished largely flat at 2,091.70, while the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia closed 0.28% higher at 6,749.70.

Over in India, shares bucked the overall downward trend regionally as the Nifty 50 and S&P BSE Sensex both jumped more than 3% each, adding to large gains seen last Friday after a surprise tax cut was announced.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index shed 0.15%.

Markets in Japan were closed on Monday for a holiday.

US-China trade

On the trade front, China's Ministry of Commerce said over the weekend that economic and trade teams from the two economic powerhouses held "constructive" discussions in Washington late last week. They added that both the U.S. and China agreed to maintain in contact.

Shares stateside had slipped last Friday after the Chinese delegation canceled a visit to U.S. farms in Montana and Beijing officials headed back to China earlier than planned, dampening expectations of a trade deal being reached.

"The starting point is they're not on the same page, the collateral damage is going to be far more pernicious because even if China is implicated it's not just China that's implicated," Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Monday. "I don't think anyone is winning the trade war."

Oil prices jump

Oil prices jumped in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures gaining 0.84% to $64.82 per barrel and U.S. crude futures jumping 0.96% to $58.65 per barrel.

Shares of oil companies regionally, however, were mixed. Australia's Beach Energy jumped 1.95% and Santos gained 0.64%, while South Korea's S-Oil rose 0.49%. Hong Kong-listed shares of China's CNOOC, on the other hand, slipped 0.95% as of their final hour of trading.

The moves in crude prices came after reports surrounding Saudi Arabian state oil firm Aramco, which recently saw attacks at major facilities. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that repairs at Aramco could take months longer than the firm expects, citing Saudi officials and contractors.

That came following a Nikkei Asian Review report that Aramco told Japanese refiner JXTG about a potential change in shipments, raising questions over the kingdom's ability to supply crude.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 98.536 after seeing an earlier low of 98.446.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.74 against the dollar after seeing lows above 108.3 in the previous trading week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6772 after declining from levels above $0.685 last week.

— CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report.