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Asian Shares Mixed Ahead Of Powell's Senate Testimony

asianmarket 021219 23feb21 lt

Asian stocks ended mixed on Tuesday as the prospect of more U.S. fiscal stimulus offset lingering concerns over an uptick in bond yields and worries over higher inflation affecting valuations.

Investors watched closely for any changes to the U.S. Federal Reserve's dovish outlook from Chair Jerome Powell when he speaks before the Senate Banking Committee later in the day.

Japanese markets were closed on account of the Emperor's Birthday. Chinese stocks ended a tad lower as policy tightening worries persisted.

China's Shanghai Composite Index slipped 6.09 points, or 0.2 percent, to 3,636.36, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 312.81 points, or 1 percent, to 30,632.64 on optimism about an economic recovery.

China's central bank said it would prioritize policy stability and avoid making sudden shifts while providing the support needed for a continued economic recovery in 2021.

Australian markets recovered from a weak start to end notably higher, led by mining and energy stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 58.30 points, or 0.9 percent, to 6,839.20 amid reports that the country will ramp up its Covid-19 immunization drive. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 49.20 points, or 0.7 percent, at 7,110.80.

Energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum and Santos soared around 6 percent as oil surged toward $63 a barrel. Oil Search jumped 6.4 percent after reporting a surprise underlying profit.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto climbed 2-3 percent as copper prices breached the $9,000 mark for the first time since 2011 on indications of tight supply. Firmer bullion prices lifted gold miners, with Newcrest Mining rallying 4.4 percent.

Meanwhile, tech stocks followed their U.S. peers lower, with buy-now-pay-later giant Afterpay plunging 7.2 percent.

Seoul stocks ended modestly lower amid inflation concerns. The Kospi swung between gains and losses before ending the session down 9.66 points, or 0.3 percent, at 3,070.09. Tech and bio stocks paced the decliners.

In economic news, a central bank survey showed that consumer confidence in South Korea improved in January, with a sentiment index score of 97.4 - up from 95.4 in December.

New Zealand shares fell for the fourth day running, with the benchmark NZX-50 Index closing down 37.40 points, or 0.3 percent, at 12,388.84 after official data showed retail sales in the country excluding price moves fell 2.7 percent in the three months ended December.

U.S. stocks fell broadly overnight as rising commodity prices and climbing government bond yields stoked worries about inflation and valuations, just as the world starts to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones recovered from an early slide to end 0.1 percent higher, while the S&P 500 shed 0.8 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite tumbled 2.5 percent.

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