Latest News Australia leads gains as most Asia-Pacific markets rise; South...

Australia leads gains as most Asia-Pacific markets rise; South Korea sees continued losses

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SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific mostly rose in Wednesday morning trade as investors react to recent comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Shares in Australia led gains among the region’s major markets, with the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia jumping 1.84%.

Mainland Chinese stocks were also higher, with the Shanghai composite rising fractionally while the Shenzhen component added 0.233%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained around 0.1%.

Elsewhere, however, South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.49%, adding on to losses following Tuesday’s decline of more than 2%.

Stocks in Japan were also lower in their first trading day of the week following holidays on Monday and Tuesday. The Nikkei 225 slipped 0.61% while the Topix index dipped 0.55%.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.27% higher.

In a prepared testimony, the Fed’s Powell said the central bank remains committed to supporting the economy  through its tools “for as long as it takes.” He also noted that “many economic indicators show marked improvement,” though the path forward “continues to be highly uncertain.”

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Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 94.131 following its rise earlier this week from levels below 93.5.

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The Japanese yen traded at 105.17 per dollar following a weakening from levels around 104.4 against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.714, having weakened from levels above $0.725 this week.

Oil prices were lower in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.62% to $41.46 per barrel. U.S. crude futures shed 0.63% to $39.55 per barrel.

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