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Asian Shares Mixed Ahead Of Powell's Congressional Testimony

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Asian stocks ended mixed on Tuesday as investors awaited Congressional testimony later in the day by the new Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for further insights into the central bank's view on inflation and interest rates.

Chinese shares snapped a six-session winning streak as investors locked in some profits. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index fell 38.05 points or 1.14 percent to 3,291.53, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slid 229.94 points or 0.73 percent to 31,268.66.

Japanese shares rallied after U.S. stocks hit their highest level in over three weeks overnight amid declining Treasury yields on easing worries over rate hikes. The Nikkei average climbed 236.23 points or 1.07 percent to 22,389.86, a three-week high, while the broader Topix index closed 0.88 percent higher at 1,790.34.

Exporters Canon, Toyota Motor, Panasonic and Sony rose 1-2 percent. Oil major Inpex jumped 3.1 percent and Japan Petroleum advanced 1.2 percent. Alps Electric and Yaskawa Electric climbed 5-6 percent.

Australian shares extended gains for the fifth consecutive session as rising prices for commodities and a slew of positive earnings reports helped lift mining and energy stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 14.70 points or 0.24 percent to 6,056.90 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 13.20 points or 0.21 percent at 6,159.30.

Mining heavyweight BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto gained 0.8 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

Mineral sands miner Iluka Resources jumped 3.6 percent after narrowing its full-year loss. Fuel supplier Caltex Australia soared over 4 percent after it decided to buy out franchises as part of a major overhaul of its business model.

Bluescope Steel advanced 2.8 percent to extend Monday's gains after extending its share buyback program.

The big four banks rose between 0.2 percent and 0.9 percent while energy majors Woodside Petroleum and Santos fell over 1 percent.

On the economic front, Australia's consumer confidence improved during the week ended February 25, a weekly survey compiled by the ANZ bank and Roy Morgan Research showed. The consumer confidence index rose 2.3 percent to 117.9 from 115.3 in the preceding week.

Seoul stocks ended lower after the Bank of Korea' monetary policy board voted to hold the nation's benchmark interest rate steady at 1.50 percent and a central bank survey showed the country's consumer confidence fell to a 5-month low in February. The benchmark Kospi slipped 1.51 points or 0.06 percent to 2,456.14 amid selling by foreign investors.

New Zealand shares rose for a fifth straight session, mirroring firm cues from global markets as investors awaited Powell's long-awaited first congressional testimony.

The benchmark S&P/NZX-50 index rose 19.85 points or 0.24 percent to 8,360.38. Synlait Milk shares rallied 3.3 percent after the milk processor bought 28 hectares of land in Pokeno, North Waikato, to build a new manufacturing facility.

New Zealand posted a merchandise trade shortfall of NZ$566 million in January, Statistics New Zealand said today - representing 13 percent of exports. That missed expectations for a flat reading following the NZ$596 million deficit in December.

Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was moving up 0.4 percent after IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde praised the economic management and strong policy frameworks of the nation.

Malaysia's KLSE Composite index was rising half a percent while benchmark indexes in India, Singapore and Taiwan were down between 0.1 percent 0.3 percent.

Overnight, U.S. stocks rose sharply as treasury yields pulled back further partly in reaction to dovish comments by St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard warning against aggressive interest rate hikes not supported by incoming data.

The Dow rallied 1.6 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 surged around 1.2 percent each.

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