* Shares in Europe, U.S. rise ahead of Fed minutes
* Dollar near lowest level of the year vs currency basket
* Oil rises, but gold and copper prices flat on the day
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Feb 19 Stock markets around the world
rose slightly on Wednesday, continuing their recent advance as
investors did not expect anything hinting at a change in
monetary policy to be announced in upcoming minutes from the
U.S. Federal Reserve.
The dollar hovered near its lowest level of the year, while
both the euro and the yen were little changed on the day. Gold
prices were also near breakeven levels.
Later on Wednesday, the Fed will release minutes of its
January policy meeting, when it decided to trim its monthly
asset buying by another $10 billion.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen has since indicated that the central
bank was still inclined to keep tapering its bond purchases,
though markets assume the run of soft data will encourage
caution in its efforts.
Recent data in the U.S., including on the housing and labor
markets, has come in below forecasts, though many analysts chalk
the weakness up to poor weather and don't expect the Fed to
adjust the slowing of its stimulus program as a result.
If the central bank were to slow the pace of tapering, it
may raise concerns that the economy is too weak to grow without
"The market has shown a great ability to dismiss any
weakness as weather related, whether or not that's appropriate,
and it shows no sign of stopping its upward momentum," said
Steve Sosnick, equity-risk manager at Timber Hill/Interactive
Brokers Group in Greenwich, Connecticut.
"While a change in the minutes could move the market, for
now investors don't seem too worried."
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 84.55 points,
or 0.52 percent, at 16,214.95. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 5.24 points, or 0.28 percent, at 1,846.00. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.02 points, or 0.00
percent, at 4,272.77.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up
4/32 in price, with the yield at 2.6943 percent.
The U.S. dollar index rose 0.1 percent against a
basket of currencies, recovering slightly after slipping to its
lowest level of 2014 overnight. Both the euro and yen
were little changed on the day.
European shares rose 0.2 percent while the MSCI
World index added 0.1 percent.
Dealers have been surprised by the euro's resilience given
speculation the European Central Bank would have to ease policy
further to avert the risk of deflation.
"One could expect that if the real economy is getting up and
if we see that in Germany wage increases are quite substantial,
there might be a certain self-correcting trend (in inflation),"
ECB member Ewald Nowotny told Reuters in an interview.
"So we will see whether this needs some specific action or
whether ... there would be a merit for waiting."
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei pared its early losses to
end off 0.5 percent, battling to maintain the momentum of
Tuesday's 3 percent rally which followed a decision by the Bank
of Japan to expand a scheme to encourage more bank lending.
The emerging markets focus remained on rising unrest in both
Ukraine and Thailand. Ukraine's sovereign bonds and
currency both tumbled as a renewed wave of violence hit the
capital Kiev, adding pressure on Russia's rouble which has hit
an all-time low against the euro.
The rouble's weakness stemmed mainly from the
finance ministry's plan to buy foreign currency to replenish one
of its sovereign wealth funds. Moscow shares also fell
CENTRAL BANK FOCUS
Dealers also kept a careful eye on China's central bank
after it drained funds from the money market on Tuesday, though
it took no new action on Wednesday which helped the Shanghai
market bounce by 1.1 percent.
The People's Bank of China (PBOC) is trying to engineer a
gradual upward shift in the cost of money to encourage companies
to deleverage and discourage high-risk shadow banking activity,
though investors are anxious it could hurt growth.
In commodity markets, both gold and copper prices were flat.
Brent crude rose 0.3 percent and U.S. crude futures
rose 0.4 percent on forecasts of lower crude and oil
products stockpiles due to new pipeline capacity and robust