A man takes photos of a view showing residential and commercial buildings, from an observation deck beneath the YTN Seoul Tower, commonly known as the Namsan Tower, in Seoul on September 3, 2021.

Anthony Wallace | Afp | Getty Images

Asia-Pacific markets mostly rose after comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell hinted that interest rate cuts may not be too distant if inflation signals support.

Speaking to the Senate Banking Committee, Powell didn’t offer an exact timeline for rate cuts, but noted they would go down soon.

“We’re waiting to become more confident that inflation is moving sustainably at 2%. When we do get that confidence, and we’re not far from it, it’ll be appropriate to begin to dial back the level of restriction,” Powell said in response to a question about rates and inflation. 

Investors will also be watching the State of the Union address by U.S. President Joe Biden due 9 p.m. ET/ 10 a.m. Singapore time.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was on pace for a third straight day of gains, up 0.62%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 traded close to the flatline, while the Topix slid 0.33% as January household spending fell more than expected, dropping 6.3% year on year compared with the 4.3% expected by economists polled by Reuters.

The metric gives a clue to whether inflation is outpacing wage gains, which is being closely watched by the Bank of Japan.

South Korea’s Kospi climbed 1.37%, while the small cap Kosdaq was up 0.68%.

Futures for Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index stood at 16,329, pointing to a stronger open compared with the HSI’s close of 16,229.78.

Overnight in the U.S., both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite surged to record highs, as hopes over easing inflation and gains in tech aided Wall Street’s midweek bounce.

The broad S&P 500 advanced 1.03% to 5,157.36, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.51% to 16,273.38.

Both notched all-time highs during the session, while the S&P 500 also clinched a closing record. Separately, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.34%.

— CNBC’s Samantha Subin and Alex Harring contributed to this report


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