SYDNEY: Asian shares tracked Wall Street higher on Tuesday as markets hoped the U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell would sound dovish about easing prospects later in the day, while the dollar steadied near four-week lows.

The euro reclaimed some lost ground, French shares whipsawed, while the risk premium of French bonds over German narrowed as investors digested shock election results that left France facing a hung parliament.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3% to just a touch below a two-year top hit on Monday. Japan's Nikkei jumped 1% to a fresh record high.

S&P 500 futures gained 0.2% and Nasdaq futures firmed 0.3%, after Wall Street equities inched higher to close at record highs overnight.

Chinese blue chips edged up 0.1%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was flat.

Fed Chair Powell is set to appear before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday, as investors wagered a slew of soft labour market data has greatly increased the chance of a rate cut in September to about 80%.

"I think markets got a degree of optimism that Powell will be cautiously dovish and that the CPI later this week will confirm that disinflation is back on track," said Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP in Sydney.

"Which I think seems reasonable to me. When you look at the US economy, most of the data is softening. Jobs figures on Friday were on the soft side, unemployment trending higher. Most labour market leading indicators are cooling down."

The main economic event this week will be the U.S. consumer price report on Thursday, where headline inflation for June is expected to slow to 3.1%, from 3.3% in May, with the core steady at 3.4%.

For all of 2024, markets have fully priced in a total 50 basis points of easing, equivalent to two rate cuts.

In the foreign exchange markets, the U.S. dollar steadied near four-week lows at 104.98 against a basket of currencies, offering some respite to the battered yen and yuan.

The Japanese yen held at 160.84 per dollar, having plumbed a 38-year low of 161.96 per dollar last week, while the offshore Chinese yuan hovered at 7.2874 per dollar, after gaining for four straight sessions to move away from 7-1/2 month lows.

Treasuries were steady, having ended Monday mixed. Ten-year government bond yield held at 4.2764%, having slipped for four straight sessions, while two-years were flat at 4.6243%, nearing a three-month low.

In commodity markets, gold rose 0.2% to $2,363.31 an ounce , having fallen 1.4% overnight.

Oil prices were little changed after a hurricane that hit a key U.S. oil producing hub in Texas caused less damage than expected.

(Reporting by Stella Qiu; Editing by Himani Sarkar)