SYDNEY – Asian financial markets were little changed on Tuesday as investors awaited congressional testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell due to start later in the day for clues on the central bank's next move on interest rates.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was flat after US stocks ended the previous session with mild gains. The index is up 2.9 percent so far this month.
The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes reached 3.9675 percent, compared with its US close of 3.983 percent on Monday.
The two-year yield, which rises with traders' expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 4.8945 percent compared with a US close of 4.894 percent.
Australian shares were 0.1 percent lower after being down 0.3 percent earlier in the session, while Japan's Nikkei stock index rose 0.5 percent.
Australian stocks were dragged down by resource majors BHP Group and Rio Tinto.
The Reserve Bank of Australia is tipped to order its tenth consecutive interest rate rise today at 2.30pm AEDT (0330 GMT) and raise the official cash rate by 25 basis points to 3.6 percent.
Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.12 percent and the S&P 500 was up 0.07 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite was off 0.11 percent.
The Fed's Powell is due to deliver his semi-annual testimony before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday, which will be closely watched for clues regarding the extent and duration of the US central bank's restrictive monetary policy aimed at curbing inflation.
Fed funds futures traders are pricing in a 76 percent probability the Fed will raise rates by 25 basis points (bps) at its March 21 to 22 meeting, and a 24 percent likelihood of a 50 bps increase.
In the US, the Labor Department's February employment report is expected on Friday and any signs of softening in the robust jobs market will be seen as a sign that the Fed's hawkish tactics are having their desired effect.
"In the next couple of days the congressional testimony will be critical for markets. Investors have repriced what they think the Fed will do with interest rates in March and into the second quarter," said Tai Hui, JPMorgan Asset Management's chief Asian market strategist.
February US non-farm payrolls will also be watched closely after a strong January number, Hui added, with markets being "seemingly directionless" awaiting the macroeconomic data and US policy comments.
Bank of America chief executive Brian Moynihan on Tuesday told a Sydney business summit that the bank predicted the US economy would reach a technical recession later this year before the central bank began cutting rates in 2024.
"It's a very slight recession in the scheme of things. I don't think you'll see a deep recession," he said.
"In our view that is based on a corporate side or a commercial side slowdown, not a consumer side slowdown."
In Asian trading, the dollar rose 0.13 percent against the yen to 136.08, and remains weaker from its high this year of 137.09 reached last week.
The euro was up 0.1 percent on the day at $1.0683, having gained 1.01 percent in a month, while the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies of other major trading partners, was down at 104.25.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude ticked up 0.28 percent to $80.69 a barrel. Brent crude was higher at $86.49 per barrel.
Gold was slightly lower. Spot gold was traded at $1846.43 per ounce.