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Major Asia indexes jump at least 1%; mainland China markets closed for Lunar New Year eve

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia were higher on Monday — the final trading day of January, with markets in mainland China and South Korea closed for the Lunar New Year eve.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 1.07% to close at 27,001.98 while the Topix index climbed 1.01% to 1,895.93. Despite its Monday gains, the Nikkei 225 dropped about 6% for January.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index jumped 1.07% on the day to 23,802.26 while Singapore’s Straits Times index advanced 0.1% to finish the trading day at 3,249.59. Markets in Hong Kong and Singapore closed early on Monday ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.

Over in India, both the Nifty 50 and BSE Sensex surged about 1.4% each, as of 11:51 a.m. local time.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia lagged the broader region, closing 0.24% lower at 6,971.60.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.6%.

China factory activity data

Official data released Sunday showed Chinese factory activity growth slowing in January. The country’s official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index for January was at 50.1, just above the 50 level that separates growth from contraction. January’s reading compared against December’s figure of 50.3.

Meanwhile, a private survey released over the weekend showed Chinese manufacturing activity contracting in January. The Caixin/Markit manufacturing PMI came in at 49.1 for the month.

PMI readings are sequential and represent month-on-month expansion or contraction.

Global markets have seen volatile trading in recent days after the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday indicated it could soon hike interest rates for the first time in more than three years.

Oil rises more than 1%

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 1.23% to $91.14 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 1.16% to $87.83 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.116 after a recent surge from below the 97 level.

The Japanese yen traded at 115.46 per dollar, having weakened last week from below 114.6 against the greenback. The Australian dollar was at $0.7023 after dropping in the previous trading week from above $0.714.

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