NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar eased on Wednesday, helping to push oil prices higher in a lackluster session that was mostly on hold ahead of the release of minutes from a Federal Reserve meeting of policymakers in June.
Stocks on Wall Street were slightly lower, trading in a subdued pattern after U.S. markets posted some of the lowest daily trading volumes of the year in the past week.
Equity markets in Europe declined as concerns over the region’s sluggish response to the euro zone debt crisis sent 10-year German bond yields to new lows.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 37.58 points, or 0.30 percent, at 12,615.54. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 1.03 points, or 0.08 percent, at 1,340.44. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 13.47 points, or 0.46 percent, at 2,888.86.
In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European companies slipped 0.03 percent to 1,038.85.
The dollar was down against a basket of major trading-partner currencies, with the U.S. Dollar Index off 0.04 percent at 83.400.
U.S. government debt prices were little changed as worries about the European debt crisis and a slowing U.S. economy pinned benchmark yields near 5-1/2 week lows ahead of an auction of 10-year notes.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was flat in price to yield 1.5031 percent.
The Fed minutes “will be eagerly awaited by market participants for clues regarding the outlook for monetary policy,” said Eric Theoret, currency strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto. “Clues regarding the outlook will arise from the discussion of other, more active measures that some of the more dovish activist policymakers may have sought to pursue.”
Germany sold just over 4 billion euros of 10-year government bonds o n W ednesday at record low yields, with demand solid due to concerns that the recently agreed anti-crisis measures may not be powerful enough to overcome the euro zone debt crisis.
Yields on 10-year German debt in the secondary market were lower at 1.272 percent, off the average auction result of 1.31 percent.
Brent crude oil, which fell more than 2 percent on Tuesday, was back above $99 a barrel after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which produces one-third of global oil, left its 2012 world oil demand growth forecast unchanged at 0.9 million barrels per day.
Traders were awaiting the release of U.S. inventory data that is expected to show crude stocks shrinking for a third week in the world’s largest oil consumer.
Brent crude for August delivery rose $1.11 to $99.08 a barrel. U.S. crude was up $1.04 at $84.95 a barrel.
Spot gold prices rose $10.14 to $1,574.60 an ounce.
The Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of 19 commodities was up 1.74 points at 290.38.