Shares rise, dollar eases on U.S. rate outlook

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MILAN, May 18 (Reuters) - World stocks pushed higher on Tuesday and the dollar dipped to near three-month lows as bets that U.S. interest rates would remain low helped investors look past rising COVID-19 infections in Asia.

Equities in Europe rose in morning trade with the STOXX 600 (.STOXX) regional benchmark closing in on its previous record high, up 0.5%, while Wall Street looked set to follow with S&P 500 futures gaining almost 0.4%.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) rallied 1.6%, as it recovered part of the losses suffered recently after new Coronavirus cases prompted some economies to impose fresh anti-virus restrictions.

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MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe (.MIWD00000PUS) gained 0.5% by 0810 GMT.

Market volatility has risen in recent weeks on worries that abundant stimulus and rising inflation pressures in the U.S. could force the Federal Reserve to reduce its support to prevent the world's largest economy from overheating.

"Taper talk is the new taper," said Mike Kelly, head of multi-asset at PineBridge Investments.

"Structural inflation is still some way off but temporary supply-side bottlenecks will last at least until September. The Fed will try to talk their way through it and markets will get frustrated. But the more temporary inflation overshoots, the harder it will be to avoid taper talk," he added.

But remarks on Monday from Fed Vice-Chair Richard Clarida, who pointed to the weak April jobs report as proof of the slack in the economy, and other Fed policymakers helped reassure markets that U.S. monetary policy will remain easy.

"In short, the Fed's music is still the same. It is not yet time for tapering, and will not be for a while," said Giuseppe Sersale, fund manager at Anthilia in Milan.

Their comments came ahead of Wednesday's release of the minutes from the Fed's policy meeting last month, which will be closely watched for any indications about where monetary policy is headed this year.

Markets also shrugged off data showing Japan's economy shrank more than expected in the first quarter as a slow vaccine rollout and new COVID-19 infections hit spending.

Japan's Nikkei (.N225) rose 2.3%, while shares in Taiwan (.TWII), which is seeing a spike in cases, rose 4.7% on news the country is in talks with the U.S. for a share of the vaccine doses Washington plans to send abroad. read more

Goldman Sachs economists see the delays in global vaccine supplies as temporary and expect about half of the world's population to be vaccinated by the end of 2021.

The dollar plumbed a six-year trough against the Canadian dollar and teetered near multi-month lows versus European currencies, as Treasury yields stalled amid renewed expectations the U.S. will not hike interest rates anytime soon.

The dollar traded at $1.2202 against the euro , its weakest since Feb. 25. The Canadian dollar advanced to a six-year high of C$1.2030 against the greenback, aided by higher crude oil prices.

The dollar index fell 0.4% to its lowest since Feb. 25.

U.S. 10-year Treasury yields were little changed at 1.651%.

Spot gold rose 0.2% to $1,869.9 an ounce, a three-and-a-half month high, as a weaker U.S. dollar and growing inflationary pressure bolstered the metal's appeal as an inflation hedge.

The weaker dollar also helped copper prices rise, while zinc prices in Shanghai climbed as much as 6.1% to their highest in more than 13 years on supply concerns in China.

Oil prices rose, with Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude both up around 0.9% on expectations of stronger fuel demand as the U.S. and European economies reopen.

Bitcoin rose 3.5%, paring some of its steep losses since Tesla (TSLA.O) boss Elon Musk said he would stop taking bitcoin as payment due to environmental concerns. Ether jumped 6.7%.

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Reporting by Danilo Masoni, Sujata Rao and Paulina Duran, Editing by William Maclean

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