Singapore stocks drop ahead of Yellen's testimony

Gary Cohn is reportedly the top pick to take over for Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve chair

"Normalization of monetary policy in the coming months is nearly priced in, and the Fed will start shrinking its balance sheet in September, and this does not necessarily mean a delay of rate hikes", said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief forex strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.

Germany's 10-year rate closed at its highest level since the end of 2015, up 1 bp to 0.57%, while French, Italian and Spanish 10-year rates were up in the order of 2-8 bps. Investors will be looking at second-quarter earnings reports on Friday from big USA banks including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup.

Yellen is due to testify before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday and before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.

"In the absence of any notable economic data releases, and with investors happy to remain on the sidelines ahead of Janet Yellen's semi-annual testimony before Congress later this week the currency markets have continued to trade tight ranges", traders at HiFX said in a note.

Japan's Nikkei stock index rose 0.5 percent, buoyed by a weaker yen, while Australian shares pared some of its earlier losses. Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 9.25 points, or 0.16 percent, on volume of 22,556 contracts.

The productivity slowdown, found not just in the USA but also other advanced economies, reflects a combination of factors, perhaps a "productive pause" as firms retool to incorporate new technology as well as a postrecession decline in research-and-development investment that has started to reverse.

ENERGY BOOST: Energy sector companies led the gainers.

Panasonic rose 1.97 percent to 1,521 yen and Sony tacked on 2.60 percent to 4,439 yen.

Higher US interest rates and Treasury bond yields raise the opportunity cost of holding gold, which yields nothing and costs money to store and insure. Bank of America declined 34 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $24.56.

Global benchmark Brent was up 0.2 percent at $46.76, following Friday's 2.9 percent slide.

Gold XAU= edged lower to $1,212.13 an ounce as it headed back towards a four-month low [GOL/] and copper dipped too as the prospect of a strike at one of Chile's big mines failed to offset data showing a rapid build-up of inventories.

The dollar was little changed against the euro, with EUR/USD at 1.1394.

Among other precious metals, silver fell 0.5 percent to $15.55 per ounce, while palladium rose 0.3 percent to $842.25 per ounce.

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