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Asian stocks mixed on Crimea anxiety; Nikkei at 1-month low

Asian equity markets started the week mixed on Monday, as concerns escalated over Ukraine after exit polls from a weekend referendum showed Crimea voting to join Russia.

Russian news outlets reported on Sunday that 95.5 percent of Crimeans voted to break away from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russia's lower house of parliament has stated that it will pass legislation allowing Crimea to join the nation in the "very near future."

"Further sanctions and other punitive measures are likely to be announced leading to a heightening of tensions and increased risk aversion," warned Mitul Kotecha, Managing Director and Global Head of Foreign Exchange Strategy at Credit Agricole in a note.

(Read more: Crimea vote keeps risk aversion in play)

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Shanghai rallies 1%

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite crossed the 2,000 level following last week's near 1 percent fall thanks to a rally in construction-related shares.

News over the weekend that Beijing is planning an expansion of its transport networks and urban infrastructure lifted cement producers; Fujian Cement soared over 7 percent while Hua Xin Cement rallied over 3 percent.

The yuan meanwhile was modestly lower against the greenback after the central bank eased its grip on the currency by doubling the daily trading band to 2 percent over the weekend.

(Read more: The yuan trading band has been widened - now what?)

Nikkei 0.3% lower

Japanese shares slumped to fresh one-month lows for a second straight session but the pace of losses eased as the yen resumed its decline, moving off Friday's two-week high.

Index heavyweight SoftBank increased 5 percent after its Chinese e-commerce affiliate Alibaba decided to hold its share listing in the U.S.

Nikon closed down 1.6 percent after losing as much as 4 percent earlier in the session after being accused of selling faulty products in China.

Sydney slips 0.2%

Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 also closed at a new one-month low for a second straight session after posting a 2.7 percent weekly loss on Friday.

But a rally amid gold miners capped larger losses on the index after gold prices rose to six-month highs. Kingsgate Consolidated jumped 3 percent while Evolution Mining added 2.6 percent.

Leighton Holdings slumped 3.6 percent after Hochtief, its majority shareholder, warned of job cuts ahead.

(Read more: Get ready Asia,another busy week in store)

Kospi adds 0.4%

South Korean shares enjoyed a modest rebound after falling to its lowest levels since February 7 on Friday thanks to a rally in automakers; Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors added 2 and 3 percent, respectively.

Hanjin Shipping lost 2.6 percent on news that it will merge with the shipping unit of Hanjin Holdings.

Indian markets were shut for public holidays on Monday.

By CNBC.com's Nyshka Chandran. Follow her on Twitter @NyshkaCNBC

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