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Asian Markets Mixed After Powell Speech

By Alex Ho

Investing.com - Asian markets were mixed in morning trade on Wednesday as investors digested the latest views from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

China’s Shanghai Composite slipped 0.1% by 10:01 PM ET (02:01 GMT). The Shenzhen Component gained 0.6%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index also rose 0.5%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 traded 0.6% higher after returning from a holiday. Softbank Group Corp. (T:9984)’s stock skyrocketed as much as 12% after a U.S. district judge approved a merger between Sprint Corp (NYSE:S)and T-Mobile US Inc (NASDAQ:TMUS). SoftBank is a major shareholder of Sprint.

South Korea’s KOSPI edged down 0.2% after government data today showed the country’s unemployment rate rose for a fifth month in January.

The jobless rate climbed to 4% during the month, increasing from a revised 3.7% in December, government data showed Wednesday. Economists had forecast a rate of 3.8%.

Down under, Australia’s ASX 200 advanced 0.5%.

Overnight, Powellsaid in remarks before U.S. lawmakers that the fed is closely monitoring fallout from the deadly coronavirus outbreak in China.

“In particular, we are closely monitoring the emergence of the coronavirus, which could lead to disruptions in China that spill over to the rest of the global economy,” he said.

However, Powell stopped short of saying the disease had changed the central bank baseline outlook for the U.S. economy.

“The FOMC believes that the current stance of monetary policy will support continued economic growth, a strong labor market and inflation returning to the committee’s symmetric 2% objective,” Powell said. “As long as incoming information about the economy remains broadly consistent with this outlook, the current stance of monetary policy will likely remain appropriate.”

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