Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.5% to 21,764.54 and the Shanghai Composite dropped 0.4% to 2,920.46. India's Sensex declined 0.3% to 38,730.76. Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.3% to 26,031.56 and Sydney's S&P ASX 200 also rose 0.3% to 6,732.70. Shares fell in Indonesia and Thailand.
Hong Kong got a boost from reassuring comments by the chief executive of its monetary authority. Norman Chan Tak-lam, who is stepping down, said that despite the past several months of political protest, "the monetary system that means the exchange rate, the banking system and the financial system, have remained stable, and they have been continue to function normally and smoothly."
Two gauges of Chinese factory activity improved in September ahead of a round of trade talks with Washington. Surveys released Monday by an industry group and a business magazine both showed improvement, though the gains were small.
Demand for Chinese goods has been hurt by weakening domestic and global economic growth as well as U.S. tariff hikes in a fight over trade and technology. Negotiators are due to meet next month in Washington but there has been no sign of progress toward ending the dispute.
Wall Street capped a choppy week with a second straight weekly loss for the S&P 500 Friday as worries about a potential escalation in the trade war between the U.S. and China erased early gains. Technology companies led the broad slide as investors weighed a report saying the Trump administration is considering ways to limit U.S. investments in China. Bloomberg cited unnamed people familiar with the administration's internal discussions.
Uncertainty over the long-running trade war has fueled volatility in the market and stoked worries that the impact of tariffs and other tactics employed by the countries against each other is hampering U.S. economic and corporate profit growth.
The possibility that the U.S. is weighing another way of applying pressure on China dampened investors' already cautious optimism that the world's two biggest economies might make progress as their representatives resume their negotiations.
The S&P 500 index fell 0.5% to 2,961.79. The benchmark index finished the week with a 1% loss. Even so, it remains 2.1% below its all-time high set in July. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.3% to 26,820.25. The Nasdaq, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, lost 1.1% to 7,939.63.
Investors also shifted money out of smaller company stocks, pulling the Russell 2000 index down 12.85 points, or 0.8%, to 1,520.48. Benchmark crude oil rose 13 cents to $56.04 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 50 cents on Friday to $55.91 a barrel.
Brent crude oil, the international standard, picked up 13 cents to $61.17 a barrel. The dollar slipped to 107.95 Japanese yen from 107.97 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.0935 from $1.0934.