Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose nearly 0.6% to finish at 21,318.42. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was little changed, inching up less than 0.1% at 6,648.00. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.5% to 2,019.55. Hong Kong's Hang Seng inched down less than 0.1% to 26,673.46, while the Shanghai Composite rose 0.8% to 3,024.74.
New data on Sunday showed that China's trade with the United States was falling as the two sides prepare for negotiations with no signs of progress toward ending a tariff war that threatens global economic growth.
Imports of American goods tumbled 22% in August from a year earlier to $10.3 billion, while exports to the United States, China's biggest market, sank 16% to $44.4 billion, according to the data. Both sides have raised tariffs on billions of dollars of each other's imports in the fight over complaints about Beijing's trade surplus and technology development plans. The United States, Europe, Japan and other trading partners say those violate Chinese market-opening commitments.
Investors have been encouraged in recent days by news that envoys from Washington and Beijing plan to begin another round of trade talks next month, though their outcome remains highly uncertain. In the U.S., traders had a muted reaction to data released Friday showing that U.S. employers added fewer jobs than expected in August.
The jobs report was the latest in a mixed batch of economic data that investors scrutinized this week in search of clues about how the economy is weathering the costly trade war. Tariffs that the U.S. and China have imposed on hundreds of billions of dollars-worth of goods may be dampening global economic growth and threatening to nudge the United States into a recession.
Investors are watching central banks for hints on what they will do to help the economy. The European Central Bank is expected to unveil new monetary stimulus measures on Thursday, though doubts remain about how much it can help the economy when many key sources of uncertainty - from the trade wars to Brexit - can only be solved by political agreements.
The Federal Reserve is also expected to cut interest rates again in two weeks, though how aggressively it might continue doing so at later meetings remains open to speculation. ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil added 34 cents to $56.86 a barrel. It rose 22 cents to settle at $56.52 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, added 33 cents to $61.87 a barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar was roughly stable at 106.96 Japanese yen. The euro was up slightly at $1.1037, from $1.1023 on Friday.