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Asian stocks mixed at start, Nikkei 225 surges 0.1pc, Hang Seng slips 0.5%

Asian stocks mixed at start, Nikkei 225 surges 0.1pc, Hang Seng slips 0.5%

TOKYO: Asian stocks were little changed Tuesday as investors awaited remarks from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and Greece prepared to unveil reforms that its new government hopes will win it approval for extended rescue loans.

The Nikkei 225 index in Japan edged up 0.1 percent to 18,490.02 and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.5 percent to 1,977.77. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.5 percent to 24,714.99. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.1 percent to 5,911.20. Markets in mainland China remained closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Investors will be listening for any hints from Yellen on the timing of interest rate hikes from the Fed when she delivers her semiannual report to the U.S. Congress, scheduled for Wednesday. Many economists have predicted the central bank will raise interest rates in June. European Central Bank head Mario Draghi also has a speaking engagement after last month announcing a 1.1 trillion euros ($1.2 trillion) stimulus effort.

“Traders will examine Draghi’s statements for any further ratcheting up of the imminent stimulus program, and Yellen’s for any signs that recent soft U.S. data has pushed back the tightening timetable,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.