U.S. Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, currencies, oil
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SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific looked set for a higher start on Wednesday as investors watch for market reaction to comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on his resolve to raise rates till inflation comes down.

Futures pointed to a higher open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 26,875 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 26,840. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 26,659.75.

Australian stocks also looked poised to open higher, with the SPI futures contract at 7,181, against the S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 7,112.50.

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U.S. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said he will back interest rate increases till prices begin falling back toward a healthy level. Earlier in May, the U.S. central bank raised rates by half a percentage point —its largest hike in two decades — as it looks to fight inflation.

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 jumped 2.02% to 4,088.85 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite surged 2.76% to 11,984.52. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 431.17 points, or 1.34%, to 32,654.59.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 103.36 after a recent decline from levels above 104.

The Japanese yen traded at 129.45 per dollar, having held above the 129 level against the greenback for much of the week so far. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7029, above levels below $0.70 seen earlier in the week.

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