Asian shares edge up as investors await Yellen's testimony

Stock futures in the US for Monday were up, suggesting shares on Wall Street will open higher and extend gains that were made following the release last Friday of the jobs report by the Labor Department. This suggested that US Federal Reserve will have no plans for discontinuing its next planned interest rate hike this year. A higher dollar, in which gold is priced, would also lower the value of the yellow metal.

Dollar bulls are banking on Yellen to retain her hawkish stance, emboldened by last Friday's relatively robust US non-farm jobs report."The main focus is whether Yellen makes it clear in Congress that the Fed intends to begin winding down quantitative easing". Recently released meeting minutes from the European Central Bank underscored that pivot, which means the U.S. Fed is no longer the only major central bank adopting an increasingly hawkish stand.

The broad-based S&P 500 slipped 0.1 per cent to 2,424.37, as did the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index which was down to 6,170.69. Snap slid $1.34, or 7.9 percent, to $15.65. Rent-A-Center rose $1.11 to $12.21. South Africa's rand hit a two-month low ZAR=D3 while Turkey's lira TRY= and Russia's rouble RUB= both lost nearly 1 percent to trade just off recent respective 2-1/2 month and six-month lows.

Department store JC Penney dipped 0.2 per cent as it announced chief financial officer Edward Record was stepping down. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.36 percent from 2.38 percent late Monday.

Seoul added 0.6 percent, with Taipei more than one percent up and Wellington 0.6 percent higher. Benchmark U.S. crude picked up 64 cents, or 1.4 percent, to settle at $45.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price global oils, lost 48 cents to $46.40 a barrel.

Gold started the week on the back foot, testing the $1208-$1205 area, but managed to recover its earlier losses and ended the day up $1.55 at $1214.09 an ounce.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX lost 0.1 percent, while France's CAC40 fell 0.5 percent.

The region-wide MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was marked 0.46% by 06:30 London time while a softer yen helped lifted Japan's Nikkei 225 by around 0.7% into the close of trading.

The euro pulled back slightly, fetching $1.1397, compared with $1.1399 late Monday in NY. The euro strengthened to $1.1439 from $1.1403.

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