Asian equities were mostly lower early Monday, as a negative finish in the US last week and surprisingly weak trade data in China over the weekend weighed on sentiment.
Mainland trade data released on Sunday showed exports fell 3.3 percent from year-ago levels, while imports tumbled 19.9 percent, below expectations.
US stocks closed down last Friday, ending the week significantly higher, amid continued concerns over Greece and a strong jobs report that renewed the possibility of an earlier Fed rate hike. For January, the Labor Department said the US created 257,000 jobs, beating estimates of about 230,000. More importantly, average hourly earnings grew by 0.5 percent, above estimates.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed down 0.3 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended 0.4 percent lower.
Nikkei adds 0.2%
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 trimmed gains from a one-week high attained earlier in the session as the yen moved further away from a four-week low of 119 against the dollar.
Exporter stocks were mixed, with Sharp up more than 1 percent, but Toyota Motor and Nissan lessened gains to near the flatline. Electronics like Nikon and Sony receded 3.6 and 2.1 percent each.
A robust performance among financials supported the bourse; Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and SMFG gained 0.3 and 0.6 percent each.
Mainland indices down
Shanghai stocks opened down 0.3 percent, adding to a 2 percent slide last Friday sparked by concerns over a raft of new initial public offerings (IPOs) scheduled for this week.
Banks were among the biggest losers on the Shanghai Composite; Bank of China sank 1.3 percent, while Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Agricultural Bank of China sagged 0.7 and 0.9 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong equities dropped 0.6 percent at the open.
ASX drops 0.4%
Australia’s key S&P ASX 200 index nursed losses in early trade, after extending gains into a twelfth straight session last Friday.
Fairfax was the biggest loser, slumping nearly 10 percent, after reports that multi-billionaire shareholder Gina Rinehart has sold her stake in the media firm.
Iron ore and gold miners also underperformed, with Newcrest Mining and junior producer Beadell Resources tanking 2.6 and 4.7 percent, respectively, following a more than 2 percent fall in gold prices last Friday. BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto fell over 1 percent each.
The Australian dollar shed 0.4 percent to trade at USD 0.7762 amid worries about slowing growth in China sparked by a less-than-stellar data at the weekend.
In other news, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott survived a challenge to his leadership after his ruling Liberal party on Monday voted down an attempt to unseat him. A secret ballot to declare the positions of party leader and deputy leader vacant was voted down 61 votes to 39, according to a party official.
Kospi eases 0.4%
South Korean shares tracked Asia-wide losses early Monday amid a pullback in index heavyweights. Hyundai Motor, the second-heaviest weighted stock on the Kospi index, plunged 3.4 percent, while KB Financial Group and Posco widened losses to more than 1 percent each.
But gains among tech stocks offset some of the losses; Samsung Electronics, LG Display and LG Electronics notched up between 0.1 to 1.7 percent.