Asia Stocks Mostly Gain, China Stumbles

Most major indexes in Asia closed higher on Monday after Wall Street closed out last week at records and the U.S. dollar continued to struggle.

The Nikkei 225 average in Japan regained 61.06 points, or 0.3%, to 23,714.88, despite the yen's climb higher. Financial names rose in the session, but automakers and technology stocks proved to be a mixed picture.

Shares of SoftBank Group closed 3.2% higher following news from Nikkei Asian Review that the company aimed to list SoftBank Corp., its mobile arm, both in Tokyo and abroad this year. The listing could raise around two trillion yen ($18 billion U.S.) for the company, Nikkei added.

SoftBank said in a statement the listing of its mobile unit was an option for the company, but that no official decision had been made.

Against the yen, the greenback edged lower to trade at 110.81.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong dropped 73.67 points, or 0.2%, to 31,338.87. Still, the benchmark traded not far from its all-time high.

In other public offering news, online finance platform Lufax aims to list in Hong Kong in April, the South China Morning Post reported on Friday, citing anonymous sources. Lufax's potential IPO would come hot on the heels of other "new economy" companies in Hong Kong last year, including online-only insurer ZhongAn Online Property & Casualty Insurance.

Meanwhile, smartphone maker Xiaomi has reportedly chosen Citic Securities, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley as sponsors for the company's proposed listing

In Korea, heavyweight Samsung Electronics, which had fallen for most of last week on the release of poorer-than-expected profit guidance, closed higher by 0.7%. Other tech names, however, were in negative territory, with SK Hynix declining 2.3%

Meanwhile, bitcoin-exposed stocks retraced losses seen last week following news about a potential ban on cryptocurrency trading in South Korea. Omnitel rose 28.9% and Kakao advanced 3.2% on the day.

Australian markets were up marginally, with the materials and gold producer sectors among the best-performing on the day. Major miners BHP and Rio Tinto closed up 1.2% and 1.5%, respectively.

Gold producers also finished the session in positive territory after the yellow metal hit four-month highs on softness in the greenback. Newcrest Mining rose 2.9% and Evolution Mining was up 6.6% by the end of the day.


In Shanghai, the CSI 300 inched up 0.24 points to 4,225.24

Financials listed on mainland markets made gains, but those were offset by losses in telecommunication services, materials and industrials names.

The Chinese currency rose to a more than two-year high after an official at Germany's central bank said it would add the yuan to its currency reserves, Reuters reported. The onshore yuan traded at 6.4320, while the offshore yuan traded at 6.4362. The central bank lets the yuan rise or fall a maximum of 2% against the dollar, relative to the fixing rate.

The People's Bank of China set the yuan midpoint at 6.4574 to the dollar, its firmest level in more than a year and a half, earlier on Monday,

In other markets

The Kospi in Korea tacked on 7.31 points, or 0.3%, to 2,503.73

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index added 72.35 points, or 0.7%, to 10,955.31

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index gained 15.85 points, or 0.5%, to 3,536.41

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 fell 30.98 points, or 0.4%, to 8,211.37

In Australia, the ASX 200 picked up 7.03 points, or 0.1%, to 6,077.08