* Stocks fall, BoE minutes raise specter of rate hike
* Fed minutes also on tap later in day
* Euro below $1.33 for first time in nearly a year
(Adds opening of U.S. market; changes dateline; previous
By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, Aug 20 Global equity markets eased on
Wednesday on a spate of poor corporate results and the release
of Bank of England minutes that showed two of the bank's
policymakers unexpectedly voted earlier this month for a rate
Sterling and UK bond yields rose after the surprise shift
toward higher British rates, while the dollar jumped to its
highest against the euro and a basket of major currencies since
The signals on central bank policy eclipsed geopolitical
developments as investors braced for the release later Wednesday
of minutes from the last Federal Reserve policy meeting.
The Fed minutes also come ahead of Fed Chair Janet Yellen's
widely anticipated address to the annual gathering of central
bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday.
With U.S. and global stock indexes trading close to all-time
highs, investors are awaiting a reaffirmation of the
accommodative monetary policies that have helped spur a global
rally in stocks.
"The next leg up is going to come from what we hear on
Friday from Yellen," said Phil Orlando, chief equity market
strategist at Federated Investors in New York. "The market has
been a little bit on tenterhooks," he said.
MSCI's all-country equity index was down
0.07 percent, while the FTSEurofirst 300 index of
leading European shares fell by the same margin.
A warning from brewer Carlsberg that profits
would fall this year due to deteriorating conditions in Russia
also rattled investors.
A cut in its full-year sales forecast by Lowe's Companies
also unnerved investors, though the world's No. 2 home
improvement products retailer also posted better-than-expected
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 23.06 points,
or 0.14 percent, at 16,942.65. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 1.43 points, or 0.07 percent, at 1,983.03. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was down 2.32 points, or 0.05
percent, at 4,525.20.
The dollar broke through resistance at $1.3300 and last
November's high of $1.3295 per euro to trade as high as
$1.3275. It also climbed to a 4 1/2-month high against the yen.
It was last up 0.24 percent versus the euro at $1.3287.
U.S. crude oil rose more than $1 a barrel ahead of the
September contract's expiry later on Wednesday and as crude
stocks in the United States posted a sharp fall, while Brent
bounced off a 14-month low to reach $102.
Brent crude for delivery in October was up 45 cents
at $102.01 a barrel. The U.S. crude contract for September
delivery was up 62 cents to $95.10 a barrel.
U.S. Treasuries fell, with the benchmark 10-year note down
2/32 in price to yield 2.4139 percent.
(Additional reporting by Jamie McGeever in London, reporting by