• Asia Pacific markets were mixed in afternoon trade.
  • The U.S. economy added 196,000 jobs in March, according to government data released Friday, beating economists’ prediction of 175,000 jobs.
  • On Saturday, Chinese official broadcaster CCTV reported that there was “new progress” in trade talks that wrapped in Washington on Friday, Reuters reported.

Asia Pacific markets were mixed on Monday afternoon 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 12:16 p.m. HK/SIN.

Mainland Chinese stocks shed their earlier gains to slip by the morning session’s end, with the Shanghai composite declining fractionally and the Shenzhen component shedding around 0.14%. The Shenzhen composite also fell 0.822%.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.29%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 slipped 0.17% in afternoon trade as index heavyweight Fanuc declined about 1%. The Topix also shed 0.39%.

Over in South Korea, the Kospi was largely flat.

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 more than 2% and 14%, respectively. Hanjin KAL, the holding company for the Hanjin Group conglomerate where Cho was chairman, saw gains of more than 19%.

Australia’s ASX 200 advanced 0.55% as almost all the 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.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday that the U.S. economy would climb like “a rocket ship ” if the Federal Reserve cut interest rates, following the strong jobs report.

“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 $1.3062 after seeing highs above $1.314 last week.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of its peers, traded at 97.258, slipping from earlier highs but still above levels near 97.00 seen last week.

Among other currency pairs, the Japanese yen traded at 111.38 to the dollar, after touching levels below 111.00 in the previous week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7089 after seeing lows around the $0.705 handle last week.

Oil prices rose to five-month highs on Monday, driven by supply cuts. Gains continued in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with the international benchmark Brent crude futures contract adding 0.44% to $70.65 per barrel and U.S. crude futures advancing 0.52% to $63.41 per barrel.

Source: CNBC

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