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CNBC Daily Open: Powell to Speak in Congress – Markets Are Mixed on Expectations

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This report is from today's CNBC Daily Open, our new, international markets newsletter. CNBC Daily Open brings investors up to speed on everything they need to know, no matter where they are. Like what you see? You can subscribe here.

Fed Chair Powell will speak later today. Markets don't know what to expect.

What you need to know today

  • U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will testify before Congress as a week packed with economic data releases lies ahead. That includes February's jobs report, which will show whether the Fed's aggressive rate hikes are starting to cool the economy – especially after January's hot report.
  • Stocks in the U.S. were a mixed picture as investors braced for more hawkish commentary from Powell – the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose slightly by 0.12% while the Nasdaq Composite dipped 0.11%. Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed Tuesday after Australia's central bank raised its cash rate by 25 basis points to 3.6%, the highest rate since June 2012.
  • China's new foreign minister in a Tuesday briefing warned of rising tension ahead with the U.S. Qing Gang told journalists relations have left a "rational path" and that there would be conflict if Washington does not "hit the break, but continue to speed down the wrong path," he said.
  • Iran says 8.5 million tons of lithium has been discovered in one of its western provinces. The metal, also known as "white gold" for the electric vehicle industry, has seen prices skyrocketing in the last year on higher demand before seeing a drop in EV sales and slower business.
  • PRO For the past decade, these three stocks are the only ones in the MSCI World Index to have seen positive yearly returns, according to screening done by CNBC Pro.

The bottom line

Good morning. This is Jihye Lee writing to you from Singapore. I'm sitting in today for Yeo Boon Ping, who is on leave.

All eyes will be on Powell testifying today and Wednesday. What he says will guide traders as well as lawmakers on how the U.S. central bank is viewing the state of inflation and how far its campaign of aggressive hikes has come – and most importantly, where markets go from here.

Treasury yields rose slightly, after peaking above 4% last week.

Powell is almost certain to face tough questions from Congress. He'll likely be asked how badly high interest rates have hurt the economy, as global markets face a slowing business environment.

Iran claims it's discovered the world's second-largest known lithium holdings, after Chile's. Iran says it found a deposit of 8.5 million tons of the metal. But whether the EV industry will benefit from that claim is very much in question. While a deposit that large could drive down lithium prices, bringing that commodity to market would depend on Iran's capacity to export. The country's economy has been crushed by heavy sanctions and a plunging currency.

And finally, we look ahead to International Women's Day. Moody's Analytics in a recent report said it may take 132 years for the world to close the gender pay gap. And when it does, the world will see an economic boost of $7 trillion – that's an additional 7% to the world's GDP of untapped potential.

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