Asian markets mostly rose on the first trading day of the Year of the Sheep, buoyed by a bailout deal between Greece and the euro zone last week. However, trading volumes remain light with China, Taiwan and Vietnam still closed for the Chinese New Year holiday.
Wall Street set the positive mood by closing at highs last Friday after Greek and euro zone finance ministers agreed to extend the country’s financial rescue by four months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.9 percent, while both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished 0.6 percent higher.
However, there are analysts who remain cautious, saying the Greek crisis may not be “out of the woods yet.” “[Greece] has until today to submit their list of reforms to the Europeans so there’s still anxiety in the markets about whether the list will satisfy the Germans. [Bailout extension] is a positive signal but there’s more to come,” Clive McDonnell, head of Equity Strategy at Standard Chartered, told CNBC Asia’s “Squawk Box.”
Nikkei jumps 0.7%
Among blue-chip exporter stocks, Mitsubishi Electric and Toyota Motor piled on 0.8 and 0.6 percent, respectively, but Canon and Sony added 0.3 and 0.1 percent each. Toshiba erased gains to finish flat.
Airbag maker Takata underperformed the bourse with a slump of nearly 3 percent, after being slapped with a $14,000 per day fine by U.S. regulators for failing to fully cooperate with a probe into its faulty airbags, which have been linked to six deaths and dozens of injuries. Fanuc also fell 2.8 percent after activist investor Dan Loeb says the announcement of a 130 billion yen capital expenditure plan isn’t enough to fix the robot maker’s “blatant capital inefficiency.”
Meanwhile, three members of the Bank of Japan’s policy board expressed doubts the central bank can meet its inflation target due to falling oil prices, minutes from the BOJ’s last policy meeting showed.
Read MoreHyperinflation… in Japan?
ASX gains 0.5%
Australia’s benchmark S&P ASX 200 index closed up on Monday, remaining in sight of a seven-year high, on the back of buoyant banking majors. However, market attention remained squarely on corporate earnings releases.
Boart Longyear halved its full year loss to $333 million, but warns its earnings remain under pressure. Shares of the world’s biggest supplier of mine drilling services finished 5 percent higher. Construction group Lend Lease bounced 0.9 percent after posting a 25 percent improvement on its profits in the six months to December 31, supported by a positive residential housing market.
Among other companies reporting earnings, miner Bluescope Steel was the underperformer, down nearly 10 percent, despite delivering a 62 percent jump in its underlying half-year profit on the back of a weaker Australian dollar and stronger steel margins. A better-than-expected 48 percent rise in annual profit also failed to boost Caltex Australia, which dropped 0.2 percent.
Read MoreJapan pines for Australia’s yields
STI dips, focus on budget
Singapore shares slipped 0.4 percent after data showed January’s consumer price index fell 0.4 percent from a year earlier, wider than expectations in a Reuters poll.
There was also focus on Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s 2015 budget statement.
Singapore unveiled a budget that includes higher retirement benefits, larger infrastructure spending and corporate tax rebates amid speculation early elections will be called this year.
Meanwhile, markets may keep an eye on news that Singapore’s founding father and former prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, has been hospitalized for severe pneumonia over the past two weeks. According to a government statement on Saturday, the 91-year-old’s condition has since stabilized.
Rest of Asia
Meanwhile, South Korean shares closed up 0.4 percent, pulling back from a two-and-a-half-month high attained at the open. The Kospi index was shut since last Wednesday.
Index heavyweight Samsung Electronics, which was in focus after it announced it would buy U.S.-based mobile wallet provider LoopPay, reversed gains to lose 0.7 percent late Monday. Also in focus was the country’s fifth largest conglomerate Lotte Group, which said over the weekend it was picked as the preferred bidder for KT Rental. As a result, shares of Lotte Shopping elevated 3 percent but Lotte Chemical shed 0.6 percent.