Asian Shares Down in Thin Holiday Trade With Wires
Key Points

Asian stocks were mostly lower on Monday in holiday-thinned trade with many of the region's markets shut for the Lunar New Year holidays.

Australian shares fell 0.2 percent, pulling back from a 34-month closing high touched in the previous session, with top miners mostly weaker as base metal prices eased.

Global miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto declined 0.6 percent and 0.2 percent respectively.

(Read More: Rio Tinto Wins Ruling to Keep Others Off Iron Ore Railway)

The benchmark ended down 11.8 points at 4,959.5. The index jumped 1 percent last week. New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index ended down 5.2 points to 4,220.5.

The corporate earnings season gets underway in earnest this week, with first-half results due from Commonwealth Bank, blood products maker CSL and Rio Tinto.

(Read More: Australia Banks Slash Mortgage Rates)

Investors took heart and sent retailers higher on hopes for better January sales. Department stores Myer and David Jones rose 3.1 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.

The bourse operator ASX received an early boost after the Australian government delayed a decision on opening the country's equities clearing facility to competition for two years, extending the ASX's monopoly. The shares finished down 0.2 percent.

India Stocks Edge Down

In India, the BSE index closed down 0.1 percent, while the broader NSE index slipped 0.1 percent on continued concerns over India's economic growth after government estimates on Friday showed India's FY13 growth could be worse than expected.

(Read More: Indiain a 'Horror Show' as Growth Slumps)

Foreign investor interest in the Indian stock market, however, has been strong this year, with $7 billion in overseas funds entering the market since the start of 2013.

Markets in Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia were closed for national holidays.