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Asian Shares Mixed Before Central Bank Meetings

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Asian stocks ended Monday's session on a mixed note as the focus shifted to earnings announcements and a round of central bank policy meetings due this week.

Upbeat economic data from China and the U.S. last week as well as hopes for more stimulus measures from Beijing to aid growth helped to limit the downside to some extent.

Chinese shares gained ground as the People's Bank of China kept the one year and five-year loan prime rates unchanged for January. The rate was last reduced in November, which was the first reduction since the new lending rate was introduced.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index rose 20.29 points, or 0.66 percent, to 3,095.79. Tourism shares tumbled amid concerns over a coronavirus outbreak in the country. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gave up 0.90 percent to finish at 28,795.91.

Japanese shares rose for the third straight session, with underlying sentiment helped by fresh record-setting advances on Wall Street and a weak yen against the dollar.

The Nikkei average edged up 42.25 points, or 0.18 percent, to 24,083.51 while the broader Topix index closed half a percent higher at 1,744.16.

Investors shrugged off official data showing that Japan's industrial production declined slightly more than initially estimated in November.

Industrial production fell by a seasonally adjusted 1.0 percent month-on-month in November. According to the initial estimate, production had declined 0.9 percent.

On a yearly basis, industrial production dropped 8.2 percent in November versus the initial estimate of 8.1 percent decrease.

Australian markets rose for a fifth straight session to reach fresh record highs, with mining and energy companies advancing. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 gained 15.40 points, or 0.22 percent, to 7,079.50 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 16 points, or 0.22 percent, at 7,196.30.

Miners advanced as copper prices hovered near eight-month highs. BHP gained 1.6 percent before releasing its quarterly production report. Rival Rio Tinto added 0.9 percent after it forecast higher iron ore shipments in 2020 on Friday.

Beach Energy rallied 3.6 percent and Woodside Petroleum rose 0.7 percent as oil prices rose sharply on news of a blockage of oil exports at Libya's ports.

Lynas Corp shares gained 0.4 percent. The rare earths group confirmed a legal challenge has been lodged against the Malaysian government's decision to renew its operating license.

Kogan.com shares plunged more than 22 percent after the ecommerce firm
released a surprisingly disappointing first half update.

Seoul stocks rose for the third consecutive session to hit a 15-month high on the back of positive U.S. data released overnight. The benchmark Kospi rose 0.54 percent to 2,262.64, the highest level since Oct. 5, 2018.

Technology companies led the surge, with heavyweight Samsung Electronics climbing 1.8 percent on hopes that higher chip prices will lead to an improvement in its earnings. The firm also announced some leadership changes. South Korea's No. 2 chipmaker, SK Hynix, added 0.9 percent.

New Zealand shares fell, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index falling 53.26 points, or 0.45 percent, to 11,746.95.

U.S. stocks eked out modest gains on Friday as investors cheered strong U.S. housing data and signs of resilience in the Chinese economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.2 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.4 percent.

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