Asian stocks move little in holiday-thinned trade; CSL drags on Australia

Investing.com-- Asian stocks kept to a tight range on Monday with a bulk of major markets in the region closed for the Chinese New Year, while losses in pharmaceutical giant CSL (OTC:CSLLY) dragged Australia’s ASX 200 lower. 

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

Australia’s ASX 200 fell 0.2%, as a slew of positive earnings were offset by losses in CSL Ltd (ASX:CSL), 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-largest stock on the ASX by market capitalization, offset strong gains in ANZ Group Holdings Ltd (ASX:ANZ) and JB Hi-Fi Ltd (ASX:JBH), after the two clocked strong earnings for the three and six months to December 31, respectively. 

JB Hi-Fi in particular shot up nearly 7% after it clocked a smaller-than-expected decline 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 Reserve Bank of India warned that it will stay largely hawkish in the coming months amid risks of higher inflation.

Stocks face US inflation test this week 

Regional indexes  took limited cues from a record-high close in U.S. stocks on Friday, as traders turned largely cautious before key U.S. consumer price index inflation data due on Tuesday. 

S&P 500 and Dow Jones futures moved little, while Nasdaq 100 futures moved slightly lower in Asian trade. 

U.S. CPI inflation is expected to have eased slightly in January, but is also likely to remain well above the Federal Reserve’s annual 2% target, giving the central bank little impetus to begin trimming interest rates. 

Beyond the inflation data, a slew of Fed officials are also set to speak this week and offer more cues on monetary policy.

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 Bank of Japan and robust earnings saw traders pile into Japanese stocks en masse. Nikkei 225 futures rose 0.2% on Monday. 

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