$A continues to gain strongly against $US

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The Dow rose to a record high close while United States stocks kept their upward momentum yesterday following Yellen's comments. Yellen will testify again on Thursday, this time to the Senate Banking Committee.

In the oil space, Inpex is rising more than 1 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is edging up less than 0.1 percent.

For the week, the main equity indexes are on track to post solid gains, led by a 2.5% rise for the Nasdaq on the week, a 1.3% gain for the S&P 500 and a 1% climb for the Dow. Coming amidst soft inflation data, these comments were welcomed by investors.

U.S. Treasury yields dropped to multi-week lows as the benign inflation data and unexpected fall in retail sales fueled doubts about an interest rate increase later this year.

Modest advances on Wall Street follow weaker-than-expected economic releases ahead of the bell.

Yellen, as she has done in the past, chose to dodge the question.

The S&P 500 index rose 10 points, or 0.4%, at 2,458, with all but the financial sectors in positive territory.

Banks lost ground after US yields fell, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group ending 1.5 percent lower, Mizuho Financial Group declined 1.3 percent, while insurer Dai-ichi Life Holdings dropped 2.1 percent.

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She commented that the central bank is likely to start unwinding its massive $4.5 trillion program later this year.

Yellen also told lawmakers that the Fed expects the strength of the economy will warrant steady increases in federal interest rates.

Yellen said that while uncertainty about domestic fiscal policies and economic troubles for major global trading partners complicates economic projections, she gave "roughly equal odds that the USA economy's performance will be somewhat stronger or somewhat less strong than we now project".

House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said the Fed's balance sheet reduction plan was "more good news", but warned the bank to avoid purchasing student loan debt.

"That's why you have not seen much in the way of additional follow through in dollar demand".

Yellen's Humphrey-Hawkins testimony continues. Previously, investors were concerned over soft inflation data which is still short of central bank's target of 2%.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is rising 34.51 points or 0.17 percent to 20,132.89, off a high of 20,183.80.

Technology shares moved north on Wednesday, for the fourth successive session. On the Nasdaq, 1,721 issues fell and 1,046 advanced. The Aussie was on track to rise 1.7 percent on the week, lifted by an improvement in broader investor risk appetite and rise in prices of commodities, notably iron ore.

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