Chinese inflation data, The Fed, currencies in focus

Chinese inflation data, The Fed, currencies in focus

Stocks in Asia were mixed in Wednesday morning trade as investors await comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for possible clues on the central bank’s next move on interest rates.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 slipped 0.17% in early trade, while the Topix fell 0.55%.

South Korea’s Kospi, on the other hand, advanced 0.59% as shares of chipmaker SK Hynix soared more than 3%.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.56% as most sectors traded higher.

Investors will be watching out for the release of Chinese inflation data, set to be out at 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN on Wednesday.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 22.65 points to close at 26,783.49. The Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500, on the other hand, ended their trading day stateside higher. The Nasdaq added 0.5% to 8,141.73, while the S&P 500 advanced 0.1% to 2,979.63.

Investors will be watching out for clues on whether the Fed will cut rates at its upcoming monetary meeting. Fed Chair Powell is scheduled to testify in front of the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. This comes just after a stronger-than-expected jobs report raised questions about the central bank’s next move on interest rates.

“We expect Powell to reiterate both the Fed’s belief that the case for more accommodative monetary policy has strengthened and its commitment to ensuring the US economic expansion does not falter,” Joseph Capurso, senior currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, wrote in a note.

On the U.S.-China trade front, high level trade negotiations occurred between Beijing and Washington earlier this week, according to a U.S. official, who said “both sides will continue these talks as appropriate.”

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.538 following its rise from levels below 97.2 earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.94 against the dollar after seeing levels below 108.5 earlier in the week, while the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6926 after slipping from levels above $0.695 yesterday.

Oil prices saw strong gains in the morning of Asian trading hours. International benchmark Brent crude futures added 1.01% to $64.81 per barrel, while U.S. crude futures jumped 1.45% to $58.67 per barrel.

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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