Asia Pacific stocks mixed as investors await speech from Fed’s Powell

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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