Asian Equities Higher after Yellen Comments

Most Asian shares edged up on Thursday after volatile Chinese stocks reversed course and rose, while the dollar stood tall after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen reinforced expectations for a U.S. rate hike.  As of 0328 GMT, Shanghai stocks were up 1.1 percent and the CSI300 index gained 1.4 percent. Underscoring fragile sentiment after a big recent rout, mainland indexes had slumped the previous day despite positive gross domestic product data.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was flat.  Much of Asia drew a mild lift after the Greek parliament approved a bailout plan, and with Yellen’s stance on rates did not appear to impact regional markets.  Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.5 percent, Australian shares was up 0.2 percent South Korea’s Kospi 0.3 percent.

In her semiannual testimony to the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, Yellen repeated her view that the Fed will likely hike interest rates this year if the U.S. economy expands as expected, and cited improvement in the labor market.  “Yellen’s comment gave no major news and did not change the widely perceived view that the Fed will likely raise rates sometime this year,” said Takuya Takahashi, a strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.