Stocks Move Little Before Powell Testimony: Markets Wrap

Stocks and Treasuries moved little on Wednesday as traders remained cautious ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's testimony, which is likely to underscore a lack of urgency for rate decreases.

Europe's Stoxx 600 declined less than 0.1%, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 contracts rose. Treasury 10-year rates stabilized after sliding six basis points to 4.15% previous session. A dollar index was unchanged.

Powell's semiannual congressional hearing on Wednesday comes amid fears the US stock surge is slowing on lofty valuations. UK traders are watching the government's budget and bond issuance strategy.

Gold and Bitcoin prices showed contradictory signals about global risk appetite. After briefly reaching a record Tuesday for the first time in two years, the cryptocurrency rose again. Gold held steady after rising to a record high in the previous session on US rate drop predictions and global worries.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. lifted Hong Kong shares Wednesday, while Inc. rose ahead of its fourth-quarter results. Mainland China equities sank after a day of fluctuation.

A Wednesday news conference with senior Chinese officials may reveal more about the government's consumption drive. The new securities regulator, Commerce and Finance ministry leaders, and central bank governor Pan Gongsheng will brief journalists.

Meanwhile, Japan's largest bank expects the central bank to end negative interest rates in two weeks and is preparing. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.'s assessment is more definitive than the swap market's 50% possibility of Bank of Japan Governor Kazuo Ueda reversing policy this month.

Egypt's pound fell after the central bank raised interest rates at an emergency meeting and declared the market would set the exchange rate. The government wants a multi-billion-dollar IMF loan to address its cash shortfall. After falling, oil stabilized after a report revealed US inventories are growing, suggesting supply may exceed demand.

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