European markets

European stocks gained in the early minutes of trade as investors awaited the eurozone industrial output figures set to release during the day, ahead of Chinese Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures expected later this week.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.2 percent to 1,165.24. UK's FTSE 100 gained 0.1 percent while Italy's FTSE MIB added 0.5 percent. Spain's IBEX was up 0.4 percent.

In Germany, the DAX rose 0.3 while France's CAC-40 added 0.4 percent

The single currency picked up against the dollar, trading at about $ 1.33.

A slew of Chinese economic indicators, including the GDP, are set for release this week and investors remain largely optimistic on the outlook. Analysts widely forecast the data to be positive, underscoring the general speculation that the world's second largest economy is mostly out of the woods.

Asian markets outside Japan had earlier ended higher led by Chinese stocks as traders waited for the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures set for release this week.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.22 percent higher to 4719.70 while South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.52 percent to 2007.04. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng added 0.53 percent to 23388.11 towards close. Mainland China's Shanghai Composite Index ended 3.06 percent to 2311.74.

In Europe, the Eurozone Industrial Output figures for November will be released later in the day, with analysts predicting a 0.2 percent month-on-month rise after the 1.4 percent fall in the previous month. Italian industrial production is also set for release and analysts predict the 0.5 percent ease after the 1.1 percent drop in October.

Greek lawmakers, over the weekend, passed tax hikes that could increase government revenue by €2.5bn (£2.1bn) in 2013 and 2014. The bill's approval was critical for Athens to secure its additional bailout funds worth €14.7bn in March.

But concerns made another modest comeback after a report from the Financial Times citing a draft proposal said that embattled eurozone economies seeking aid under the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) may have to share the burden by investing alongside the ESM or guaranteeing against losses. The plan has raised doubts on EU leaders' promise to "break the vicious circle" between troubled lenders and their governments.

Japanese stock markets remained shut for a holiday. But political news from the world's third largest economy remained a major point of focus in Asia. Over the weekend, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated his stand that Bank of Japan should increase inflation targets to 2 percent to assist the economy.

The newly elected government's decision to approve a stimulus package in the previous week, along with similar rhetoric on economy boosting measures had helped the local currency to slump to multi-year lows against the dollar. The greenback firmed to a more-than-two-year high against the yen, climbing as much as ¥89.67, while the euro rose to almost ¥120.

US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will make his first speech of the year, after the December FOMC minutes shook the markets. Investors will keep a close watch for his views on the economy's outlook, given the recent improvement in activity.