HONG KONG- Asia’s markets edged up Tuesday, with investors sitting on the sidelines as they await the first testimony of the Federal Reserve’s new head to find out what her plans are for its stimulus programme.
Janet Yellen, who took over as the bank’s chair at the start of the month, will testify to a House of Representatives committee later in the day on the state of the economy and the course of monetary policy.
Hong Kong rose 0.67 percent, Sydney added 0.47 percent, and Seoul was 0.10 percent higher but Shanghai was 0.16 percent lower after surging almost two percent Monday.
Tokyo was closed for a public holiday.
The latest gains indicate traders’ nerves may have settled after the turmoil seen earlier February after the Fed said it would further reduce its bond-buying scheme and US and Chinese manufacturing data came in below forecast.
Markets brushed off a second straight set of poor jobs data Friday, with some blaming severe winter weather for the weak growth, while also pointing to positive news such as a rise in labour force participation.
Yellen’s testimony will be pored over by analysts to see if she gives any indication that the central bank will slow down its stimulus tapering. In December the Fed said it would cut its monthly purchases by $10 billion to $65 billion. It then announced a similar move this month, sending markets spinning.
“Traders are likely on the sidelines in hopes of receiving a bit of clarity on the Fed’s taper plans going forward,” said Christopher Vecchio, currency analyst at DailyFX.
Wall Street provided a positive lead for Asia. The Dow edged up 0.05 percent, the S&P 500 gained 0.16 percent and the Nasdaq rose 0.54 percent.
An in forex trade the euro ticked up to $1.3667 and 139.55 yen compared with $1.3642 and 139.46 yen in New York
The dollar was at 102.10 yen against 102.18 yen.
Oil prices fell. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for March delivery, eased 13 cents to $99.93 in early morning trade and Brent North Sea crude for March was down 11 cents to $108.52.
Gold fetched $1,282.20 an ounce at 0200 GMT compared with $1,272.60 late Monday.