Asian Equities Cautious Ahead of Fed Outlook

Caution gripped Asian markets on Tuesday as investors fretted over what Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen might say later in the day on the likely lift-off date for U.S. policy tightening.  Moves were mostly minor and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS inched up 0.1 percent. The Nikkei .N225 dithered either side of flat after scoring a run of 15-year highs.

Oil prices tried to steady after their latest retreat, with U.S. crude CLc1 up 14 cents at $49.59, while Brent LCOc1 added 35 cents to $59.25 a barrel.  On Wall Street, the Nasdaq had notched up nine straight sessions of gains in its longest winning streak since September 2010, aided by a further rise in Apple (AAPL.O) stock to an all-time peak.

The Nasdaq .IXIC ended Monday up 0.1 percent, while the Dow .DJI fell 0.1 percent and the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.03 percent.  Yellen testifies before Congress later on Tuesday and there is much uncertainty over whether she will echo the dovish tone of the minutes from the Fed’s last meeting, or reaffirm June as a window for a first rate hike.


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