Dollar up ahead of Fed minutes

Asian markets were in a cautiously good mood ahead of Fed minutes

The dollar continued its discreet recovery on Wednesday, lifted by expectations that the American central bank is shifting towards tightening monetary policy quickly, dealers said.

All eyes were on the publication of minutes, scheduled for later Wednesday, of the latest Federal Reserve meeting which Fed watchers will dissect in their search for insights into the central bank's thinking.

All things being equal, higher interest rates bolster the dollar as holding the currency becomes more attractive.

Barring any surprises in the minutes, "the greenback could be on the verge of a more significant comeback," predicted Fawad Razaqzada, an analyst at

The dollar stood comfortably firm against the euro and the yen as well as against the pound sterling which came under pressure after Britain reported rising unemployment.

The weaker pound, in turn, boosted London stocks, with the FTSE outperforming its European peers.

Paris posted small gains at the close, but Frankfurt fell "after a string of disappointing" eurozone manufacturing numbers, noted Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex trading group.

The share prices of mining giant Glencore and Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) enjoyed solid gains following well-received earnings updates.

Wall Street was firmer approaching midday in New York.

- Fed minutes -

Later on Wednesday, the Fed minutes will be closely scrutinised for clues about the pace of US interest rates expected this year.

Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA, said that "while the prospect of higher interest rates will keep investors on edge, it's not like we're returning to double-digit levels". analyst Patrick O'Hare noted that the Fed minutes come from the policy meeting held just before the strong February 2 jobs report was released, igniting a stock market selloff on worries over accelerated rate hikes.

"With the market knowing what it knows now, the minutes will likely prove nettlesome if they connote a hawkish tone," O'Hare said.

Elsewhere, both main oil contracts were lower as a stronger dollar hit recent gains for crude.

- Key figures around 1640 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 7,281.57 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.1 percent at 12,470.49 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 5,302.17 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,430.16

New York - DOW: UP 0.5 percent at 25.090.75

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 21,970.81 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.8 percent at 31,431.89 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: Closed for public holiday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2307 from $1.2336 at 2200 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3944 from $1.3995

Dollar/yen: UP at 107.70 yen from 107.32 yen

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 7 cents at $65.18 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 30 cents at $61.49