Asian stocks set for mixed trading ahead of Powell

A pedestrian rides an escalator past an electronic screen and ticker board that indicates stock figures at the Singapore Exchange Ltd (SGX) headquarters in Singapore. (Bloomberg pic)

SYDNEY: Stocks in Asia looked set to trade mixed after US equities made little headway and investors awaited clues on policy from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. The dollar strengthened to its highest since mid-June and Treasuries slipped.

Futures in Japan pointed to a flat start, while contracts rose in Hong Kong and Australia. The S&P 500 Index edged higher as technology shares climbed. The yield on 10-year Treasuries nudged up to 2.06%. The Mexican peso dropped after that country’s finance minister quit.

Investors in equities and bonds are looking for fresh reasons to chase this year’s gains, but an interest rate cut by the Fed this month is already priced in and recent economic data has been mixed, making the path for future monetary policy less clear.

“Unless you get some huge red flags from the testimony over the next two days, we are going to enter into a more accommodative environment,” Anna Han, equity strategist at Wells Fargo Securities, told Bloomberg TV in New York. “That’s an opportunity to put risk on.”

Elsewhere, Italian bonds rose as the country took advantage of low borrowing costs to sell 50-year bonds. West Texas intermediate crude gained following a report that Russian output declined.