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China stocks slip ahead of Lunar New Year holidays

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SHANGHAI — China stocks slipped in thin trading volume on Wednesday as many urban workers left ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays and with some investors booking profits on concerns of any uncertainty when markets are closed for the festival.

** China’s blue-chip CSI 300 Index slipped 0.2% by the end of the morning session and the Shanghai Composite Index was almost flat.

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** Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index both edged down 0.1%.

** Other Asian shares were mixed after the Bank of Japan unanimously decided to keep its yield curve controls in place.

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** Millions of urban workers were on the move across China on Wednesday ahead of the expected Friday peak of its Lunar New Year mass migration, as China’s leaders looked to get its COVID-battered economy moving.

** The week-long holiday officially starts on Jan. 21.

** While many analysts say a return to economic normality will be gradual as the impact of COVID weakens, some see the Lunar New Year as a welcome early consumption boost.

** But with so many people on the move, health experts fear a deepening of the COVID outbreak, leaving the elderly in rural villages particularly vulnerable.

** Chinese investors tend to be cautious ahead of the long holidays, and some had booked profits before the markets shut.

** In a bright spot, Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He told the World Economic Forum that China will support the growth of the private economy in 2023 and that it was impossible for the country to return to a planned economy.

** Shares of Tencent Holdings, the world’s largest gaming company, and those of smaller rival NetEase Inc rose, after China’s video games regulator granted the first gaming licenses in 2023, further easing an industry crackdown. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Savio D’Souza)

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