GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares rise, dollar steady before Bernanke testimony
* Asian shares rise ahead of Bernanke's testimony
* Dollar comes off three-week low vs basket of currencies
* Brent oil prices slip from 3-1/2 month high, copper steady
TOKYO, July 17 (Reuters) - Asian shares edged up on Wednesday, while the dollar held near a three-week low on expectations that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will reiterate later in the day that U.S. monetary policy is to stay accommodative.
Bernanke is due to testify to Congress on Wednesday and Thursday, which could provide further clarity on when the U.S. central bank will roll back its $85 billion a month bond-buying programme.
His comments last week that highly accommodative monetary policy would be needed for the foreseeable future wrongfooted investors, who had bet on the Fed to scale back stimulus as soon as September, sending the dollar sharply lower and equities higher.
"He probably does not want to knock down share prices. So he may want to avoid being too hawkish," said Koichi Takamatsu, a manager of forex at Nomura Securities in Tokyo.
The dollar held not far from a three-week low after falling 0.7 percent on Tuesday.
Traders said preemptive moves to cut long dollar positions allowed for a bounce if Bernanke did not appear to be extremely dovish. Bernanke's prepared remarks for his congressional appearance will be released at 1230 GMT.
"We continue to favour running long dollar positions versus G10 currencies, whose central banks are in easing mode, particularly sterling right now," analysts at BNP Paribas wrote in a note.
Asian shares, as measured by the MSCI Asia-Pacific ex-Japan index, gained 0.3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.7 percent and Seoul shares advanced 0.8 percent.
Australian shares put on 0.1 percent, with global miner BHP Billiton up 2.3 percent after it posted a robust 9 percent rise in iron ore output to a record annual 187 million tonnes.
In terms of valuations, Australian equities carry a 12-month forward price-to-earnings ratio of 13.3, more expensive than the MSCI Asian gauge's 11, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream.
U.S. stocks eased overnight, with the S&P 500 snapping an eight-day winning streak after disappointing sales from Coca-Cola.
In the commodity markets, gold dipped 0.1 percent, giving up some of Tuesday's 0.8 percent rise, while copper prices held steady at $7,000 a tonne after gaining 1.2 percent in the previous session.
Brent crude prices fell 0.3 percent to below $108 a barrel, retreating from a 3-1/2 month high hit on Tuesday.