Asian markets mixed in thin trading

<p>Most Asian markets were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.</p>

Asian stock markets were mixed today (February 19th) in thin trading due to several markets in the region being closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, including China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. 

Japanese stocks climbed after the release of strong trade data. The Nikkei 225 stock index closed 0.4 per cent up to reach 18,264.79.

Australia's S&P ASX/200 lost 0.2 per cent to 5,904.20, while New Zealand's shares also fell.

Trading sentiment was hampered by uncertainty regarding the latest minutes from the US Federal Reserve's January policy meeting. 

A statement highlighted that many participants said the Fed is likely to keep interest rates at lower levels for a longer time due to the risks associated with monetary policy normalisation.

Investors also kept an eye on the Greek debt negotiations, as Greece asked for a loan extension. The country is seeking a six-month assistance package, rather than a renewal of the existing deal.

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