Asia stocks set for modest gains

Screens display stock figures at the Tokyo Stock Exchange, operated by Japan Exchange Group Inc in Tokyo. (Bloomberg pic)

SYDNEY: Asian stocks look set to climb Wednesday, though gains may be kept in check after a Wall Street advance fizzled as investors found little in Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s Congress testimony to extend the recent rally.

The dollar declined with Treasury yields.

Futures pointed to modest gains in Japan, Australia, Hong Kong and China.

The S&P 500 Index pushed lower in the final hour of trading to close in the red after Powell warned that growth looked uneven and policy makers will be patient on interest-rate adjustments.

The pound surged as UK Prime Minister Theresa May promised a vote to delay Brexit if her proposed deal fails.

Powell said with inflation pressures “muted,” the Fed “determined that the cumulative effects’’ of its actions and global and financial developments, “along with ongoing government policy uncertainty, warranted taking a patient approach with regard to future policy changes,’’ he said.

“Going forward, our policy decisions will continue to be data dependent and will take into account new information as economic conditions and the outlook evolve,’’ he told the Senate Banking Committee.

Investors are still grappling with a host of uncertainties from further developments on trade to Brexit that could rein in a recovery in global equities from December lows.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump is in Hanoi for a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Elsewhere, WTI crude finished higher after tumbling the most in four weeks on Monday following criticism from President Donald Trump that prices are too high.