Fast Asia Open: Between two Yellens

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As dawn breaks in Asia traders are readying themselves for the purgatory period between Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s first round of comments to Congress, already complete, and her second, slated for later today.

Comments from Ms Yellen’s testimony to the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday were more hawkish than expected, but investors’ initially wary response gave way to a renewed wave of enthusiasm as financial stocks rallied.

On Wall Street the Dow Jones 500 index closed 0.4 per cent higher, though London’s FTSE 100 index had finished the day down 0.1 per cent. The dollar index measuring the greenback against a basket of peers also rallied to end Tuesday 0.3 per cent higher.

Futures tip Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 to open 0.5 per cent higher, while Tokyo’s Topix index is expected to start the trading day up by a full 1 per cent. Dollar strength appears to be doing no favours for Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index, however, which is set to open down 0.2 per cent.

Corporate earnings reports out today include Commonwealth Bank, CSL, Wesfarmers, Asahi, Capitaland and Domino’s Pizza Enterprises.

The economic calendar is taking it relatively easy on Wednesday (all times Hong Kong):

  • 07.00: South Korea unemployment rate
  • 07.30: Australia Westpac consumer confidence
  • 13.00: Singapore retail sales
  • 16.00: Taiwan Q4 GDP (final)
  • Mayoral election for Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Philippines overseas remittances are also expected some time today.
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