* Bernanke's testimony starts at 1400 GMT, prepared remarks
at 1230 GMT
* Dollar comes off three-week lows vs basket of currencies
* Brent oil prices slip from 3-1/2 month high, copper falls
By Dominic Lau
TOKYO, July 17 Asian shares steadied on
Wednesday ahead of a congressional testimony by Federal Reserve
Chairman Ben Bernanke, which could offer clarity on when the
U.S. central bank will reduce its stimulus, while the dollar
came off a three-week low.
Bernanke will probably seek to use his testimony on
Wednesday and Thursday to calm market worries about life without
the U.S. central bank's $85 billion a month bond-buying
His comments last week that highly accommodative monetary
policy would be needed for the foreseeable future wrongfooted
investors, who had bet on the Fed to scale back stimulus as soon
as September, sending the dollar sharply lower and global
"He probably does not want to knock down share prices. So he
may want to avoid being too hawkish," said Koichi Takamatsu, a
manager of forex at Nomura Securities in Tokyo.
European stock index futures edged up 0.1 percent,
indicating a largely steady open, while S&P 500 index futures
were up 0.1 percent.
The dollar added 0.2 percent, though not too far from
a three-week low hit on Tuesday.
Traders said preemptive moves to cut long dollar positions
allowed for a bounce if Bernanke did not appear to be extremely
dovish. Bernanke's prepared remarks for his congressional
appearance will be released at 1230 GMT.
"We continue to favour running long dollar positions versus
G10 currencies, whose central banks are in easing mode,
particularly sterling right now," analysts at BNP Paribas wrote
in a note.
A senior Canadian finance official said the G20 meeting in
Moscow this weekend is likely to discuss the Fed's plans to
reduce its bond purchases but he declined to endorse
emerging-market criticism of those plans.
Emerging economies such as South Africa, Indonesia, India,
Turkey and Poland are vulnerable to the risk of a sudden stop in
investment flows as investors reconsider exposure to markets
which have attracted trillions of dollars of cheap money printed
by developed world central banks.
Asian shares, as measured by the MSCI Asia-Pacific ex-Japan
index, were up 0.05 percent, with Seoul shares
advancing 1.1 percent.
Australian shares dipped 0.1 percent, though global
miner BHP Billiton climbed 2.3 percent after it posted
a robust 9 percent rise in iron ore output to a record annual
187 million tonnes.
In terms of valuations, Australian equities carry a 12-month
forward price-to-earnings ratio of 13.3, more expensive than the
MSCI Asian gauge's 11, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream.
U.S. stocks eased overnight, with the S&P 500
snapping an eight-day winning streak after disappointing sales
In the commodity markets, gold dipped 0.1 percent,
after gaining 0.8 percent on Tuesday, while copper prices
fell 0.5 percent to below $7,000 a tonne, giving up some
of the previous session's 1.2 percent gain.
Brent crude prices fell 0.3 percent to below $108 a
barrel, retreating from a 3-1/2 month high hit on Tuesday.