Rising virus cases across Asia are reviving concerns over economic growth as potential lockdowns threaten to derail recovery and test the limits of central banks' accommodative policies.
Shares in the Philippines, which is battling one of the worst outbreaks in Asia, slid as much as 1.2%, even after some virus-led curbs were eased on Monday.
"Overall sentiment is still cautious even as lockdown restrictions have already been eased," said Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, chief economist at Union Bank of the Philippines.
"The market may still be looking at daily infections count... vaccine rollout developments are also being monitored and it is likely that the market is not yet confident about the efficiency of vaccinations and consistency of supply."
The Indian rupee was near an eight-month low as the country reported the world's highest daily tally of new coronavirus infections.
Stocks, however, bounced back from a 3% drop in the previous session to rise as much as 1%. India's annual retail inflation jumped to a four-month high of 5.52% in March, data showed on Monday.
"Despite 5.5% March inflation, we continue to expect the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) Monetary Policy Committee to support recovery, especially with industry still contracting and COVID-19 cases rising," analysts at Bank of America said in a note.
"RBI will continue to buy FX when the U.S. dollar weakens and let the rupee slip towards 75/USD when it strengthens to buffer the economy from contagion."
Singapore shares advanced as much as 0.4% after five straight sessions of losses, while South Korea's KOSPI jumped to a two-month high. Central banks in both countries are expected to keep rates unchanged this week.
US consumer inflation data for March due later in the day may spur some moves, as a likely acceleration could push Treasury yields and the dollar higher. Thai markets were closed for a public holiday. - Reuters