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Nikkei, Shanghai Comp end at new highs on US lead

Equity markets in Tokyo and Shanghai outperformed the region to scale fresh multi-year highs on Monday, drawing strength from a strong finish on Wall Street last week.

U.S. stocks jumped about 1 percent to close near intra-day highs on Friday following a pullback in the U.S. dollar. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index closed up 0.9 percent each, while the Nasdaq gained 0.7 percent.

Meanwhile, Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister and founding father of Singapore, passed away at age 91 on Sunday, according to a statement from the prime minister's office. The benchmark Straits Times index trimmed gains to 0.1 percent in the afternoon session, while the Singapore dollar last traded at 1.3762 per dollar.

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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Nikkei jumps 1%

Japan's Nikkei 225 index finished at a fresh 15-year high as a strong finish on Wall Street offset the impact of a rangebound yen.

Sharp surged 4.6 percent, boosted by news that Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry is considering joining efforts to help rescue it. Among other exporter plays, Suzuki Motor and Nintendo leaped 4.5 and 3.6 percent each, while blue-chip Toyota Motor rose 1.7 percent.

The top gainer for the day was Eisai, which rocketed 20 percent after a brokerage upgraded the stock on the back of the effectiveness of its drug to treat Alzheimer's disease.

Read MoreData this week to show 'patchy' growth in Japan

Mainland indices up

In its ninth straight day of gains, China's Shanghai Composite charged up 2 percent to its highest level since May 2008.

Real estate developers were among the biggest contributors to Monday's rally, with China Merchants Property advancing 4.1 percent. Gemdale, Poly Real Estate and Shanghai Shimao climbed nearly 3 percent each on the back of possible policy easing for the wobbly sector.

Infrastructure plays also rallied, with China Railway Group and China Railway Construction up by the daily maximum limit each on news that Beijing will soon release details of the "Belt and Road" initiative seeking to link China to Europe.

Orient Securities rocketed 44 percent in its Shanghai debut after raising 10 billion yuan in the mainland's biggest listing since 2011.

Hong Kong's key Hang Seng index edged up 0.5 percent on the back of the rally in Shanghai, while corporate earnings remain in play. Financials such as Standard Chartered and property plays like China Overseas Land and Investment Limited led gains by rising more than 3 percent, respectively.

Asia's largest refiner Sinopec closed down 2.1 percent after posting its first quarterly loss since going public.

ASX sheds 0.3%

Australia's S&P ASX 200 index fluctuated between gains and losses to hover near the crucial 6,000 mark last touched more than seven years ago.

Mixed trading among mining and banking heavyweights limited the bourse's advances; Fortescue Metals and Rio Tinto closed down 1 and 0.7 percent each , while Commonwealth Bank of Australia led losses with a drop of 0.9 percent.

The top performer for the day was retail conglomerate Premier Investments, which rallied 11.1 percent, after matching expectations to deliver a 9 percent rise in first-half profit.

Kospi flat

South Korea's Kospi index nursed slight losses amid a lackluster performance among its index heavyweights. Samsung Electronics and Posco bounced up 0.2 and 0.6 percent, respectively, while Hyundai Motor held on to a 1.1 percent loss.

SK Telecom tanked 1.8 percent following an announcement last Friday that it plans to acquire the remaining 49.4 percent stake in Kosdaq-listed SK Broadband. Shares of the internet services provider fell 12 percent.

Meanwhile, Asiana Airlines plunged 1.4 percent on news that the country's budget airlines have submitted a petition against its move to establish a second low-cost carrier this year.