Asian shares rallied overnight, trading with positive gains for a fourth straight session helped by upbeat data from China and after comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen yesterday. The new chairwoman of the Federal Reserve told a house committee that she supported and planned to keep policies under her predecessor, Ben Bernanke. This signals that she will continue to keep the central bank’s policy of cutting asset purchases by $10 billion. She did highlight that they would continue to cut back unless there was a “noticeable change” in the economy toward a more negative outlook. The Federal Reserve believe the labor market is “far from complete” with Yellen stating the Fed had power to improve the situation, which could indicate keeping short-term interests rates at record low levels.
The House voted Tuesday to raise the government’s borrowing limit as GOP leaders backed down from a potential confrontation with Democrats. The majority of the debt-ceiling bill was passed on a 221-201 vote which will now go to Senate for the final approval.
Chinese trade data showed exports rose of 10.6% in January compared to a year earlier, accelerating from a 4.3% advance from the previous month. Although a better-than-expected figure would be warmly welcomed, the sharp rise could be due to distortions from the Lunar New Year holidays.
WTI crude rose for a sixth day out of seven following an industry report showing stockpiles shrank last week in the US. Gold retreated following Yellen’s comments, falling from the highest level since November.