Majority of the Asian stock market indices were trading lower on Tuesday (29 March) at 5.48am GMT, with China's Shanghai Composite Index down 1.09% at 2,925.55. This is ahead of Federal Reserve chairperson Janet Yellen's speech, which is scheduled at 16.20 GMT.
Investors are said to be seeking cues from this speech. They are on the lookout for a fresh perspective on interest rates. A primary concern for investors is whether or not the Fed would increase interest rates at its April policy meeting. This follows comments made recently by Fed officials favoring a rate hike. These officials had hinted that the hike could be implemented soon.
Yellen is expected to speak at The Economic Club of New York today (29 March). Mark Matthews, head of research for Asia at Julius Baer, said: "Until there is something more from the Fed, the markets will be in wait and see mode."
Indices in the rest of Asia traded as follows on 29 March at 5.58am GMT:
|Hong Kong||Hang Seng Index||20,340.99||Down||0.02%|
Going forward, investors await more data from the US that would indicate the strength of its economy, which in turn would decide the fate of the stock markets. Analysts from Singapore's OCBC Bank said: "Market players are awaiting further cues from key US non-farm payrolls and unemployment report this Friday [local time]."
Meanwhile, overnight (28 March), the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 17,535.39 up 0.11%, while the FTSE 100 closed lower by 1.49% at 6,106.48 at its previous trading session on 24 March.
Among commodities, British bank Barclays recently warned that prices of commodities such as oil and copper could decline by as much as 25%. On 29 March, WTI crude oil was trading 0.58% lower at $39.16 (£27.52, €35) a barrel, while Brent was down 0.65% at $40.01 a barrel at 6.12am GMT.