Asian markets mostly extended gains on Tuesday after Wall Street finished higher overnight. The upcoming Federal Reserve chair's testimony at U.S. Congress later in the day, his first public appearance as chair of the Fed, was in focus.
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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.4 percent to 22,460.85 and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.4 percent to 2,467.68. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was flat at 31,487.55 while China's Shanghai Composite Index slumped 1.2 percent to 3,291.82. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent to 6,073.00. Stocks in Taiwan, Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries were higher.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "Riding on the wave of positive sentiment from the start of the week, Asian markets look set to continue in gains," said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG in Singapore. "The focus is no doubt set ahead to Fed Chair Jerome Powell's speech, though the market continues to reflect little concern over the possibility of any overtly hawkish comments."
FED WATCH: Powell's public debut as chair of the Fed starts later on Tuesday when he is due to testify to the House Financial Services Committee. Investors will be looking for clues about when and how quickly the Fed will continue to raise interest rates. In December, the Fed forecast that it would raise rates three times in 2018 but many think the Fed may accelerate that pace. Investors will also want to know whether Powell is becoming convinced that the Fed is finally on the verge of achieving its 2 percent inflation target and if so, whether it might soon feel the need to speed up its rate increases.
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks jumped on Monday. The Standard & Poor's 500 gained 32.30 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,779.60. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 399.28, or 1.6 percent, to 25,709.27, and the Nasdaq composite gained 84.07, or 1.1 percent, to 7,421.46.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 5 cents to $63.86 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 36 cents to settle at $63.91 per barrel on Monday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained lost 7 cents to $67.22 per barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 106.89 Japanese yen from 106.93 yen. The euro rose to $1.2329 from $1.2316.