Asia stocks set to trade lower as investors await Powell’s testimony

Stocks in Asia were set to trade lower on Wednesday as investors await the release of Chinese inflation data.

Futures pointed to a lower open for stocks in Japan, with the Nikkei futures contract in Chicago at 21,515, as compared to the Nikkei 225’s last close at 21,565.15.

Shares in Australia were also poised to slide, with the SPI futures contract at 6,632.0, as compared to the benchmark S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 6,665.70.

Investors will be watching out for the release of Chinese inflation data, set to be out at 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN on Wednesday.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 22.65 points to close at 26,783.49. The Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500, on the other hand, ended their trading day stateside higher. The Nasdaq added 0.5% to 8,141.73, while the S&P 500 advanced 0.1% to 2,979.63.

Investors will be watching out for clues on whether the Fed will cut rates at its upcoming monetary meeting. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is scheduled to testify in front of the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. This comes just after a stronger-than-expected jobs report raised questions about the central bank’s next move on interest rates.

“We expect Powell to reiterate both the Fed’s belief that the case for more accommodative monetary policy has strengthened and its commitment to ensuring the US economic expansion does not falter,” Joseph Capurso, senior currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, wrote in a note.

On the U.S.-China trade front, high level trade negotiations occurred between Beijing and Washington earlier this week, according to a U.S. official, who said “both sides will continue these talks as appropriate.”

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.489 after touching levels above 97.5 yesterday.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.88 against the dollar after seeing levels below 108.5 earlier in the week, while the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6929 after slipping from levels above $0.695 yesterday.

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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