Asian markets mixed after Wall Street records

Asian markets diverged on Wednesday after fresh records on Wall Street and remarks by the Fed chief that hinted the US central bank would cut interest rates later this year, without offering a clear timeframe.

While Europe's main stock markets were dragged down Tuesday by political uncertainty in France, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq in the United States edged to all-time highs.

The records came after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell pointed to "modest" progress in the battle to bring down inflation.

Although his Senate testimony did not indicate when cuts may come, analysts are predicting the first in September and a second before year's end.

"Fed Chair Powell's testimony overnight was pervaded with a somewhat dovish tone, mentioning that the Fed was confronted with 'two-sided risks'," Alvin Tan of RBC Capital Markets said in a note.

"He suggested that the Fed's reaction function is shifting to an easing bias given the 'significantly' cooling labour market, but he nonetheless declined to offer a clear timeline on rate cuts."

"In any event, the market has been pricing in almost two full Fed rate cuts this year, and Powell's statements didn't shift those expectations much," Tan added.

Powell is set to testify before a House committee on Wednesday, and investors will also be eyeing US consumer inflation data due Thursday for further insight that price rises are still easing as hoped.