Japanese shares surged on Monday after last week's sharp sell-off, but Chinese stocks had a slow start, starting in negative territory before retracing some losses after markets re-opened after the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.
The Nikkei 225 retraced losses from Friday to close up 1,069.97 points, or 7.16 percent, at 16,022.58. The smaller Topix surged 95.95 points, or 8.02 percent, to 1,292.23 at market close. The Nikkei had lost as much as 12.88 percent between February 1-12.
In South Korea, the Kospi closed up 26.92 points, or 1.47 percent, at 1,862.20.
Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 closed up 78.15 points, or 1.64 percent, at 4,843.50. The index was buoyed by gains in the materials sector, which closed up 4.44 percent, and the energy sector, which gained 3.08 percent. Resources producers were mostly up, except gold miners, with the likes of Rio Tinto gaining 4.32 percent and BHP Billiton up 5.90 percent.
Chris Weston, chief market strategist at spreadbetter IG, summed up the rally in most major markets in an afternoon note. "Asia has...found its mojo," he wrote. "There is nothing like poor data to get the equity bulls excited."
Weston was referring to Japan's fourth-quarter GDP, which underlined the difficulties faced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's campaign to kickstart growth, by coming in at -1.4 percent on-year. At the same time, China reported a surprisingly big miss on its trade data for January, with imports and exports down far further than analysts' forecast.
Earlier, analysts said the rally in U.S. and Europe on Friday and comments made by People's Bank of China (PBOC) governor Zhou Xiaochuan on the yuan at the weekend might have a positive impact on trade.
Over the weekend, Zhou told Caixin financial magazine that he saw no basis for continuing the depreciation of the yuan, also known as the renminbi. He also dismissed speculation that Beijing would tighten capital controls to stem the surging capital outflows from the mainland.
But the trade data for January showed a far bigger slide than expected by analysts. Exports for the month fell 11.2 percent on year, compared to analyst estimates of a 1.9 percent drop, according to a Reuters poll. Imports tumbled 18.8 percent compared to a market estimate of 0.8 percent drop.