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Asian equity markets reacted nervously to the election victory of Greek leftist party Syriza on Monday, as investors became wary of potential conflict that could put more strain on the euro zone.
"Various polls have been predicting a Syriza victory for some time but the margin of victory was above expectations and the subsequent coalition with the Independent Greeks may complicate matters," wrote Chris Weston, IG's chief market strategist, in a note. "As such, confusion and uncertainty seems to have crept through traders' minds in Asia today."
The euro and crude oil prices were also the victims of Greece's election results. The common currency hit a 11-year low against the U.S. dollar in early trade, before rebounding to trade at $1.1192. West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery fell 46 cents at $45.13 a barrel, while March Brent crude dropped 37 cents to $48.42 a barrel by 0226 GMT.
Adding to the gloom was a negative finish on Wall Street last Friday, as investors considered economic data, energy costs and reduced 2014 earnings estimate from United Parcel Service. The S&P 500 halted a four-session winning run, ending down 0.6 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.8 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.2 percent.
Australian markets are closed for the "Australia Day" holiday on Monday.
Mainland indices up
China's benchmark Shanghai Composite index edged up 1 percent amid choppy trade, while the blue-chip CSI300 index closed up by the same margin.
However, a dismal performance among financials capped gains; Bank of China, Bank of Communications and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) made losses between 1.4 and 1 percent, while Citic Securities and Haitong Securities receded nearly 2 percent each.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index reversed losses to inch up 0.1 percent in the last hour of trade. Standard Chartered is in focus after reports said two of its largest investors called for chief executive, Peter Sands, to be replaced within months. Shares of the lender eased 1.4 percent.
"Change at the top is absolutely necessary [because] the past few years have been very difficult," Jim Antos, bank analyst at Mizuho Securities told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia. " "I was surprised that shares traded lower in Hong Kong but I guess it shows that investors want actual action and how they do not have confidence in the current management."
Nikkei falls 0.3%
As a result, exporter stocks saw a pick-up; Panasonic and Nikon lessened declines to 0.3 and 1.4 percent each, while Toyota Motor and Suzuki Motor rebounded 0.5 and 0.7 percent, respectively. Automaker Honda slumped 1.4 percent on news that it is looking to replace airbags in its car models with one of Takata's competitors. Shares of Takata closed down nearly 6 percent as a result.
Released just ahead of trade opening, government data showed Japanese exports posted a larger-than-expected rise in December from a year earlier, suggesting a steady recovery from recession for the economy. Imports rose 1.9 percent in the year to December, which resulted in a trade deficit of 660.7 billion yen.
Meanwhile, a majority of Bank of Japan board members said slumping oil prices will weigh on inflation in the short term but will accelerate price rises over the long run, minutes of the bank's policy meeting in December showed.
South Korean shares closed down modestly as index heavyweights traded mixed. Samsung Electronics, the heaviest weighted stock on the Kospi, erased losses to settle 0.2 percent higher, while Hyundai Motor lost 2 percent.
Kia Motors plunged nearly 6 percent, after announcing a below-view guidance for the October-December period last Friday. LG Chem slid 4.1 percent on expectations that it could see a sharp decline in fourth-quarter profits after the recent plunge in oil prices.
SET down 0.6%
Thailand shares finished 0.6 percent lower, despite rising higher during the session and seemingly being unaffected by the impeachment of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra last Friday. Meanwhile, the thai baht traded little changed at 32.59 to the dollar.