* Dollar gains on optimistic U.S. economic outlook
* Fed minutes due at 2:00 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT)
(Updates prices, adds comments, changes byline, dateline,
By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK, Aug 20 The U.S. dollar advanced
further on Wednesday, holding at over 11-month highs against a
basket of major currencies on a view the U.S. economy was
improving and that minutes from the Federal Reserve's July
meeting could show a slightly less dovish tilt.
The greenback hovered near 11-1/2-month highs against the
euro and 4-1/2-month highs against the yen after Tuesday's
stronger-than-expected data on U.S. housing starts for July,
which analysts said reinforced an optimistic view on U.S. growth
and underpinned the dollar's strength.
"Overall, the fundamental picture is improving and that's
helping to support the dollar," said Eric Viloria, a currency
strategist at Wells Fargo Securities in New York.
Analysts focused on Wednesday's release of the minutes from
the latest Fed policy meeting, due at 2:00 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT).
While there were few expectations for a dramatic shift in the
Fed's views on monetary policy, analysts said a slightly more
hawkish tone from the U.S. central bank could continue to drive
the dollar's strength.
Investors are watching for hints of when the Fed will
tighten its easy money policies by raising interest rates from
current rock-bottom levels, which could boost the dollar by
driving investment flows into the United States.
"If we get a clear signal that there are people in the Fed
who seem like they want to change the communication, to open the
way for earlier rate normalization, then the market will take
notice," said Jens Nordvig, head of G10 FX strategy at Nomura
Securities International, on the upcoming Fed minutes.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback
against a basket of six major currencies, was last up 0.19
percent at 82.035, not far from an 11-month high of 82.118
touched earlier in the session.
The euro was last down 0.25 percent against the
dollar at $1.3286, remaining below a key technical level of
$1.3300 after hitting an 11-1/2-month low of $1.3276. The dollar
was last up 0.28 percent against the yen at 103.27 yen,
near an earlier 4-1/2-month high of 103.40.
The dollar was last up 0.2 percent against the Swiss franc
at 0.9109 franc, near a seven-month high of 0.9120 hit
earlier in the session.
The yield on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes
was last at 2.42 percent, up slightly from 2.41
percent late Tuesday.
(Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by James Dalgleish)