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Asia stocks flat in holiday-thinned trade

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Chinese, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korean markets were shut for the Lunar New Year, while Japan was also closed for National Day

Asian stocks kept to a tight range on Monday with a bulk of major markets in the region shut for the Chinese New Year, while losses in pharmaceutical giant CSL dragged Australia’s ASX 200 lower.

Chinese, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korean markets were shut for the Lunar New Year, while Japan was also closed for National Day.

Australia’s ASX 200 dropped 0.2%, as a slew of positive earnings were offset by losses in CSL Ltd, after the biopharmaceutical giant said a phase 3 trial for a heart attack drug had failed to meet its primary endpoint for efficacy.

Losses in CSL, which is the third-biggest stock on the ASX in terms of market capitalisation, offset strong gains in ANZ Group Holdings Ltd and JB Hi-Fi Ltd, after the two clocked strong earnings for the three and six months to December 31, respectively.

JB Hi-Fi in particular rose around 7% after it clocked a smaller-than-expected drop in its half-year profit.

Other Asian stocks were largely muted. Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a flat open ahead of key Indian inflation data due this week. The reading comes just days after the RBI cautioned that it will stay largely hawkish in the coming months amid risks of higher inflation.

Most Asian markets were reeling from a sluggish start to 2024, as markets began steadily pricing out the possibility of early U.S. interest rate cuts.

Japanese shares were an exception to this, as bets on a dovish BoJ and robust earnings saw traders pile into Japanese stocks en masse. Nikkei 225 futures gained 0.2% on Monday.

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