Investors took heart from the strong performance on Wall Street and
lifted MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
about 0.8 percent.
Chinese exports handily beat expectations in January, rising 10.6
percent from a year earlier, while imports jumped 10 percent,
leaving the country with a trade surplus of $31.9 billion for the
"The trade figures were a bit of a surprise to the market," said
Zhou Hao, an economist at ANZ in Shanghai. "The
stronger-than-expected exports data also showed improvement in the
global demand momentum."
Australia's main index added 0.7 percent and Japan's Nikkei stock
average rose about 0.9 percent.
The buoyant mood offset the impact of a much weaker-than-expected
report on Japanese machinery orders, which is a leading indicator of
The Dow Jones industrial average ended Tuesday up 1.22 percent,
while the S&P 500 gained 1.11 percent to post its best four-day
performance in 13 months.
Stocks in Canada, Europe and emerging markets also rallied as Yellen
was careful to rock no boats in her first testimony to Congress.
"Continuity in policy is the main message from Fed Chair Yellen's
testimony," said John Peters, a senior economist at Commonwealth
Bank of Australia in Sydney. "Equities did well in reaction to the
Fed sticking with its relatively upbeat outlook on the economy."
"Crucially, the Fed hasn't downgraded its view on the U.S. recovery
in light of recent data releases or volatility in markets," he
added. "Further QE tapering is on the cards at upcoming FOMC
meetings and U.S. yields should continue to rise."
The yields on 10-year Treasury notes pushed to two-week highs,
rising to 2.724 percent from Tuesday's U.S. close of 2.717 percent.
Sentiment got a further lift from news that the U.S. House of
Representatives had passed legislation increasing Washington's
borrowing authority, removing the danger of default.
Stabilization in emerging markets also helped after the turmoil of
January. The Turkish lira and the South African rand have been
grinding steadily higher for the past two weeks.
The calmer mood was reflected in the VIX index of volatility, which
dived 4.9 percent to 14.51, pulling sharply away from its recent
peak at 21.48.
[to top of second column]
The Australian dollar benefited from the better-than-expected
Chinese trade report, adding 0.2 percent to $0.9054 and also edging
up against the yen to 92.86.
China is Australia's biggest export market.
The U.S. dollar was nearly flat on the day against its Japanese
counterpart at 102.59, holding onto its gains made in the previous
session after Yellen's remarks, while the euro was also steady, at
The single currency could be affected by a speech by European
Central Bank President Mario Draghi later on Wednesday, while the
Bank of England releases a report on inflation which should include
an overhaul of forward guidance.
In commodity markets, spot gold fell 0.4 percent to $1,285.49 an
ounce, snapping a three-day winning streak and giving back some of
its sharp overnight gains as stocks rallied. But it was still not
far from a three-month high of $1,293.44 hit on Tuesday.
Brent crude rose about 0.1 percent to $108.75 a barrel, while U.S.
crude gained 0.3 percent to $100.27, also bolstered by data from the
American Petroleum Institute showing crude stocks fell by 2.5
million barrels at a key U.S. delivery hub, and by expectations of
increased U.S. demand due to cold weather.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rose 0.6 percent to
$7,121.25 a ton, reversing losses from the previous session and
moving away from a two-month low of $7,016 touched on February 4.
(Additional reporting by China economics
team; editing by Chris Gallagher)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.