ASX falls 0.8%
Australia's S&P ASX 200 index put up a sluggish performance on Monday, while the Australian dollar bounced to a three-and-a-half-week high above the 82 cents level against the U.S. dollar.
A fall in iron ore prices chilled miners, with big players like Fortescue Metals and BHP Billiton closing down 3.2 and 2.2 percent and junior miners such as Atlas Iron plummeting 15 percent.
Energy producers were downbeat as well, as the continued fall in oil prices ignited "risk-off" mode in the beaten-down oil and gas sector. Santos and Oil Search lost 5.2 and 0.7 percent, respectively. Woodside Petroleum, which was in focus after signing a memorandum of understanding with India's Adani to cooperate on liquefied natural gas market, pulled back nearly 2 percent.
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Kospi slips 0.2%
South Korean shares edged down amid declines in index heavyweights. KB Financial closed down 3 percent, while Hyundai Motor plunged nearly 2 percent on news that South Korea's auto exports fell for the second straight year in 2014. Sister firm Kia Motors fell 0.8 percent in choppy trade on late Monday.
Builders were mixed despite home sales transactions last year showed an 18 percent rise on-year; GS Construction led advances by rising 2.4 percent while Samsung C&T and Daewoo Engineering & Construction receded nearly 2 percent each.
Tech shares were the flavor of the day, with LG Electronics and SK Hynix making gains between 1.2 and 0.7 percent. Samsung Electronics - the heaviest weighted stock on the Kospi index - closed up 0.2 percent on Monday.
Meanwhile, the South Korean won touched a three-and-a-half-week high of 1,082 against the greenback, as an unexpected fall in U.S. wages prompted investors to cut long positions in the U.S. dollar.
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