Shares in Asia Pacific were mixed in Thursday morning trade as investors await upcoming comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 shed 0.17% in early trade while the Topix index dipped 0.32%. South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.25%.

Meanwhile, stocks in Australia nudged higher, with the S&P/ASX 200 up frationally.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded around 0.1% higher.

Investors will await the upcoming Thursday speech stateside from the Fed’s Powell, where he is expected to introduce a new pandemic-era tool to combat the economic impact of Covid-19 and foster inflation in the U.S.

On the coronavirus front, biotech firm Moderna announced Wednesday that its potential coronavirus vaccine generated a promising immune response in elderly patients during an early stage clinical trial.

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite rose to fresh record highs. The broader market index gained 1% to end its trading day stateside at 3,478.73 while the Nasdaq popped 1.7% to close at 11,665.06. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 83.48 points, or 0.3% to finish its trading day at 28,331.92.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 92.824 in a trading week that has seen it above 93.2 at times.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.82 per dollar following a strengthening yesterday from levels around 106.5 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7245 after a rise yesterday from levels around $0.72.

Oil prices were little changed in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures trading above the flatline at $45.66 per barrel. U.S. crude futures dipped about 0.1% to $43.35 per barrel.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap:

  • China: Industrial profits for July at 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN
  • South Korea: Bank of Korea meeting and interest rate decision

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