Asia Closes Mixed on Political Developments

Most Asian markets closed mixed on Monday as investors kept an eye on political developments in the U.S. after a government shutdown began last week.

The Nikkei 225 average in Japan gained 8.27 points to 23,816.33. Automakers were mixed: Toyota shed 0.8% while Mitsubishi Motors tacked on 1.7% by the end of the day. Technology stocks were mostly higher, with Sony closing up 1.1% and SoftBank Group advancing 1%

Shares of Toshiba popped 4.4%. The move higher followed news that the company was contemplating listing its memory unit. An IPO was one suggestion under consideration should the $18-billion U.S. sale of its chip unit to a Bain-led consortium fail to secure approval from regulators by end-March, the Financial Times reported Monday.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong jumped 138.52 points, or 0.4%, to 32,393.41, with casino stocks in positive territory — Sands China was up 3.5% and SJM Holdings rose 4.5% ahead of the market close. The technology and financials sectors were mixed, meanwhile, with Tencent higher by 1.3% and HSBC softer by 0.3%

Korean markets faded, as index heavyweight Samsung Electronics fell 2.2% on the day. Other technology stocks were mixed, with chipmaker SK Hynix declining 3% and LG Display gaining 1% by the end of the session.

The manufacturing, finance and retail sectors were also a mixed picture, with steelmaker Posco closing down 2.1% and Lotte Shopping off by 0.4%.

Down Under, markets gave up gains seen earlier in the session. The heavily-weighted financials sector declined 0.8% weighing on the broader index. Shares of Commonwealth Bank sank 1.2%, underperforming other banking names.

National Australia Bank, another of the country's "Big Four" banks, is reportedly considering spinning out its wealth arm for a potential listing, the Australian Financial Review reported, citing sources. NAB shares were lower by 0.6%

Against the yen, the U.S. dollar traded at 110.87 — near Friday's close of 110.76. The dollar index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of six currencies, traded at 90.665.

Central banks, meanwhile, will be in focus this week as the Bank of Japan convenes a two-day monetary policy meeting beginning Monday. No major changes are expected.

Investors sent the dollar tumbling against the yen earlier this month after the central bank moved to slightly reduce its purchases of long-dated Japanese government bonds. Still, a move away from ultra-easy policy is seen by many as some ways away.

In other markets

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 improved 51.2 points, or 1.2%, to 4,336.60,

The Kospi in Korea dipped 18.15 points, or 0.7%, to 2,502.11

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index tacked on 80.61 points, or 0.7%, to 11,231.46

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index added 19.07 points, or 0.5%, to 3,569.43

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 added 45.4 points, or 0.6%, to 8,335.36

In Australia, the ASX 200 tailed off 13.89 points, or 0.2%, to 5,991.91