China Stocks Lead Asian Equities Higher

Chinese shares led gains among regional peers to touch fresh seven-year highs early Monday, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 struggled to find momentum as it remained a whisker away from the key 20,000-point mark.

On Friday, U.S. stocks finished higher, with the blue-chip Dow breaching 18,000 for the first time this month, as investors looked ahead to the official start of earnings season. While some companies like Alcoa have already reported quarterly earnings, the earnings season will get into full swing with reports from Dow components like JPMorgan Chase and Intel.

Japanese stocks inched down after meandering between gains and losses at the open. Index heavyweights such as Softbank and Fast Retailing rose 2.2 and 0.8 percent each, but advances were offset by steep losses among carmakers. Nissan and Honda Motor lost over 2 percent, respectively, and Toyota Motor receded 1.2 percent.