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Global Stocks Mixed as Investors Await Jerome Powell's Capitol Hill Debut

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Global stocks were mixed in early Tuesday trading, with European markets expected to open higher and U.S. futures marked modestly to the downside, as investors await the debut appearance of new Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell.

European stocks are expected to extend gains over today’s session, according to financial bookmakers IG, thanks in part to softer domestic currencies against a slightly firmer U.S. dollar. Germany’s DAX performance index is likely to open around 0.22% higher at the opening bell, while markets around the region are set to record similar percentage gains.

U.S. equity futures slipped into the red, however, following last night’s 400-point gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, with contracts tied to the benchmark trading 33 points to the downside during European dealing and those linked to the S&P 500 marked 5.75 points lower ahead of earnings from Macy’s Inc, Tenent Healthcare and American Tower as well as a key reading of U.S. consumer confidence.

Powell’s first of two appearances on Capitol Hill this week, however, starting with today’s testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, will be the focus of investor attention as markets attempt to gauge the new Fed chairman’s views on the future direction of interest rates.

Market reaction to similar testimony yesterday from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi pushed the euro lower and kept German bund yields, the proxy for regional interest rates, pinned near one-month lows as he cautioned that inflation would only “gradually” return to the Bank’s target despite the myriad support measures in place to boost consumer prices in the world’s biggest economic bloc.

Overnight in Asia, stocks were mixed as investors digested both Draghi’s appearance before European lawmakers in Brussels and awaited Powell’s first “Humphrey Hawkins” comments, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 rising 1.07% to end the session at 23,389.86 points.

Broader regional markets were held down by notable losses in China, however, with the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong falling 0.53% and the CSI benchmark in Shanghai falling 1.5% as investors pulled cash out of markets following yesterday’s rally amid questions over the implications of China’s constitutional changes which could leave President Xi Jingping in power once his second term expires in five years’ time.

Global oil prices retreated Tuesday, thanks in part to the dollar’s modest gains and the expectation of a renewed supply surge from the United States that would offset OPEC production cuts which are taking 1.8 million barrels from the market each day until the end of the year.

Brent crude prices for April delivery, the global benchmark, were seen 9 cents lower from their Friday close at $67.41 per barrel while WTI contracts for the same month were marked 6 cents lower at $63.85 per barrel.

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