Asia markets mostly rose on Monday as investors continued to watch for developments on issues such as the coronavirus pandemic. Gold prices surged to record highs.
Stocks in Taiwan led gains among the region's major markets as the Taiex soared 2.31% to close at 12,588.30, with shares of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company up nearly 10%. South Korea's Kospi also saw gains as it rose 0.79% to end its trading day at 2,217.86.
Mainland Chinese stocks were higher on the day, with the Shanghai composite up 0.26% to about 3,205.23 while the Shenzhen component added 0.318% to around 12,976.87. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was 0.35% lower, as of its final hour of trading.
On the economic data front, China's industrial profits for June soared 11.5% year-on-year, according to the country's National Bureau of Statistics.
Japanese stocks were mixed by the end of their trading day, with the Nikkei 225 slipping 0.16% to 22,715.85 while the Topix index edged 0.24% higher to 1,576.69.
The Bank of Japan's Summary of Opinions for its mid-July meeting, released Monday, said the country's economy is expected to "pick up moderately" from the second half of 2020. The central bank warned, however, that the economy is "unlikely to return to the level reached before the outbreak of COVID-19" even in fiscal 2022.
Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 edged up by 0.34% to close at 6,044.20.
Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index rose 0.74%.
Meanwhile, gold prices soared to a new record on Monday during Asian trading hours. Spot gold traded as high as $1,943.9275 per ounce before paring gains to change hands at around $1,934.29 per ounce. Those levels eclipsed the previous record high price set in September 2011.
Investor attention was likely on lawmakers stateside as they attempt to push forward on another coronavirus stimulus package. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that Republicans have finalized a bill worth about $1 trillion in coronavirus relief funds.
Globally, more than 16 million people have been infected by the coronavirus, with the U.S. accounting for roughly a quarter of that figure, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
U.S.-China tensions, which took center stage last week as mainland Chinese stocks plunged on Friday amid a sharp exchange of words between the two economic powerhouses, also continued to be monitored by investors.
"Intermittent spikes in US‑China tensions are likely to become the norm as the 3 November US Presidential election nears," economists at Commonwealth Bank of Australia wrote in a morning note.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.947 after slipping from levels above 96 last week.
The Japanese yen traded at 105.47 per dollar after strengthening sharply late last week from levels above 106.5 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7138 following its rise from levels below $0.702 last week.