Asian Shares Inch Up as Investors await Fed Chair’s Testimony

Little changes were seen on Tuesday in Asian markets as investors anticipated the commencement of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony before Congress, which is expected to provide indications about the Fed’s next move on interest rates, as well as a slew of economic data from the region.

S&P/ASX 200 in Australia is slightly up as of 9.32AM (Thai time). The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is widely predicted to raise its overnight cash rate by 25 basis points, to 3.6%, the highest level seen since June 2012. According to official data, the country ran a small trade surplus in January.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan increased by 0.43%. The benchmark Kospi index in South Korea gained 0.42%.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 1.91%. The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.60% on the mainland.

Late in the day, China will release its trade statistics. Inflation figures for Thailand are also expected to be made public.

Overnight, U.S. markets mainly maintained their gains, allowing the Dow to extend its winning streak to four days. The market is also waiting for Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday, which is expected to shed light on the Fed’s next rate-hiking steps.

In the Fed’s upcoming meeting on March 21-22, traders in Fed funds futures are pricing in a 76% chance of a rate hike of 25 bps and a 24% chance of a rate hike of 50 bps.