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Asian stocks higher ahead of Yellen report; Japan shut

Asian equities rose on Tuesday but trade was subdued as investors awaited a speech from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. Volumes were also light with Japan closed for a public holiday.

A muted handover from Wall Street set the tone for Asian trading. U.S. stocks eked out slim gains on Monday ahead of Janet Yellen's first monetary policy report to lawmakers on Tuesday. Investors are hoping the report will shed light on the pace at which the central bank will taper its bond purchases.

(Read more: Tuesday's trade will be all about Janet Yellen)

"We expect questions on the pace of stimulus reduction as well as exit measures, but do not expect Yellen to say anything beyond what the Fed has already communicated. Rather, we would focus on how upbeat (or not) her assessment of the US economy is," said analysts at Mizuho Financial in a research note.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Sydney up 0.7%

Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 index rose for a fourth-straight session, closing at a more than two-week high, while the Australian dollar climbed above 90 U.S. cents for the first time in a month after business conditions rose to a near three-year high in January.

In earnings news, hearing device maker Cochlear slumped 9 percent after reporting a 73 percent decline in first-half profit. Australia New Zealand Banking rose over 2 percent after its fiscal first quarter cash profit beat expectations but Macquarie fell nearly 4 percent despite saying annual profits were on track to exceed A$1 million for the first time in four years.

Property stocks were higher after residential property prices rose more-than-expected in the fourth quarter; Stockland led gains by 1 percent.

Trading on the stock exchange was briefly halted in the afternoon due to a technical issue.

Shanghai gains 0.8%

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite closed at its highest levels in over a month for a second straight session on optimism that Beijing could unveil more supportive policy measures.

(Read more: China is now cheaper than Turkey)

Attention turned to key economic data out this week, including January trade figures as well as consumer price inflation (CPI) and producer price index (PPI) data.

Foshan Haitian, the world's top maker of soy sauce, was halted from trading after surging 44 percent in its market debut, making it China's second largest IPO following a freeze on new listings last December.

Kospi up 0.4%

South Korean shares ended at their highest level in nearly two weeks thanks to a strong performance from retailers. Hyundai Department Store rose 1 percent after data showed sales at department store chains rose an annual 7.2 percent in January.

(Read more: Rout overdone, emerging markets to 'turn' this year)

Asiana Airlines added 0.4 percent on news that it is altering its pilot training program following July's deadly plane crash in San Francisco.

Emerging markets higher

Philippine's PSE Composite Index rallied 1 percent while Indian shares finished the session 0.14 percent higher.

By CNBC.com's Nyshka Chandran. Follow her on Twitter @NyshkaCNBC

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