A man looks at an electronic whiteboard with information on shares of the Australian Stock Exchange in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, February 6, 2018.
Brandon Thorne | Bloomberg | Getty Images
SINGAPORE – Futures, pegged to the benchmark Australia index, indicated a slightly lower open on Wednesday, while several other major Asia-Pacific markets are closed for the day.
SPI 200 futures were down 0.37% at 7,009 from the last close of the ASX 200 at 7,067.90.
The session in Asia on Wednesday follows an overnight session on Wall Street, where the S&P 500 fell amid sell-offs in Big Tech and other fast-growing stocks, while the Nasdaq Composite posted its worst day since March.
“Shares traded on the defensive amid declines in tech stocks and Yellen’s comments that the Fed may need some interest rate hikes to keep the economy from overheating,” ANZ Research analyst wrote in a morning note.
“There is some concern that the best of US earnings improvement may have already happened after the weaker April ISM manufacturing survey. The reality is that the data may not continually improve at the same rate as in March and April, but the main growth remains rapidly expanding, ”they added.
Markets in China and Japan are closed on public holidays. South Korean markets are also closed.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Tuesday that interest rates may need to be raised to contain the US economic boom, fueled in part by trillions of dollars in government stimulus spending.
Later, the former Fed chairman somewhat softened his comments on the need to raise rates, saying that he respects the independence of the Fed and is not trying to influence decision-making.
The Fed has kept short-term interest rates around zero for over a year, despite the fastest growing economy in nearly 40 years.
Currency and oil
In the foreign exchange market, the dollar index, which measures the dollar against a basket of peers, last traded at 91.288, up from around 90.600 the previous week.
According to Kim Mundy, senior economist and currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the dollar “appreciated briefly after Yellen’s comments.”
“Yellen’s comments did not specify a timeframe for the rate hike, and she clarified her comments by stating that she does not recommend a rate hike from the FOMC. We still expect the FOMC to be very patient as the economic data improves, ”added Mundy.
Elsewhere, the Japanese yen moved up to 109.31 per dollar, which is relatively unchanged from the previous close. The Australian dollar was trading slightly higher to $ 0.7711.
Oil prices traded higher on Wednesday during Asian trading hours. US oil futures rose 0.78% to $ 66.20.
– Jeff Cox of CNBC contributed to this report.