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Asian Shares Give Up Early Gains Before Closing Mixed

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Asian stocks gave up early gains to end mixed on Monday, as investors looked for further signs of a pick-up in global growth and progress in U.S.-China trade talks.

Optimism prevailed on the trade front after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Saturday a U.S.-China trade agreement would go "way beyond" previous efforts to open China's markets to U.S. companies.

Mnuchin told the media on the sidelines of the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank that he believed Washington and Beijing are "getting close to the final round of concluding issues."

Chinese shares gave up early gains to end lower, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closing down 10.84 points or 0.3 percent at 3,177.79. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slipped 99.04 points or 0.3 percent to 29,810.72.

Meanwhile, Japanese shares hit a four-month high, with sentiment lifted by a weaker yen and positive cues from global markets.

The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 298.55 points or 1.4 percent to 22,169.11, extending gains for the third straight session. The broader Topix closed 1.4 percent higher at 1,627.93.

Banks Mizuho Financial, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group rallied 1-2 percent after U.S. financial giants J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo both reported better than expected earnings.

Exporters Canon and Honda Motor rose over 1 percent each as the safe haven yen struggled near a 1-1/2-month low against the dollar.

Australian markets fluctuated before finishing on a flat note. Gold miners succumbed to selling pressure, offsetting gains in the financial sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index finished marginally higher at 6,251.40 after posting its biggest weekly gain in seven. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended flat at 6,347.90.

Financials gained ground for the second straight session, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia rising 0.8 percent after announcing job cuts. The other three big banks rose between half a percent and 0.9 percent.

On the other hand, gold miners Newcrest, Northern Star and Evolution lost 3-4 percent as the precious metal dropped to a more than one-week low due to a resurgence in risk appetite.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto ended narrowly mixed as investors awaited quarterly production figures.

Seoul stocks closed higher for the 12th straight session as investors cheered a strong start to the U.S. earnings season. The benchmark Kospi rose 9.43 points or 0.4 percent to 2,242.88.

Asiana Airlines soared 30 percent on reports that Kumho Asiana Group will submit a fresh revamp plan soon.

New Zealand shares extended gains for a third straight session, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index ending up 78.02 points or 0.8 percent at 9,846.35. Dairy firms a2 Milk and Synlait Milk led the surge to end higher by 4.2 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.

In economic releases, the services sector in New Zealand continued to expand in March, albeit at a slower rate, BusinessNZ said with a Performance of Services Index score of 52.9, down from 53.6 in February.

U.S. stocks rose on Friday as investors cheered upbeat earnings news from JPMorgan Chase as well as the launch of Walt Disney's new family-friendly streaming service called Disney+.

The Dow rallied 1 percent, while the S&P 500 gained 0.7 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added half a percent to reach their best closing levels in over six months.

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