NEW YORK The dollar hit a fresh 17-month low against the yen on Wednesday, while a climb in oil prices helped global equity markets advance modestly ahead of minutes from the most recent meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Stocks on Wall Street and in Europe moved slightly higher, buoyed by gains in the energy and healthcare sectors.
The healthcare sector continued to garner attention in the wake of the decision by Pfizer and Allergan to scrap their $160 billion merger deal. The healthcare sectors, were the top performing groups in both the United States and Europe.
Investors' attention was firmly on the release later on Wednesday of the minutes from last month's U.S. Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting and any new clues on how many interest rate hikes might be expected this year, following some mixed signals from some of the Fed's officials.
"Given that Yellen's comments post-meeting have been more dovish, I think the market will frankly ignore anything that isn't dovish," said Sharon Stark, chief fixed income strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 62.19 points, or 0.35 percent, to 17,665.51, the S&P 500 gained 11.59 points, or 0.57 percent, to 2,056.76 and the Nasdaq Composite added 42.44 points, or 0.88 percent, to 4,886.37.
MSCI's index of world shares, rose 0.6 percent. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 share index rose 0.8 percent after suffering its biggest drop in nearly a month on Tuesday.
Though the dollar was able to rebound somewhat against the yen, it was still limping after comments from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that countries should avoid trying to weaken currencies with "arbitrary intervention."
The dollar was down 0.25 percent against the yen at 110.03 yen after hitting 109.83, its lowest level since October 2014.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was last up 0.01 percent at 94.640.
But as for much of the last year, oil was the main driver of most of the market moves.
Crude prices extended their rebound. U.S. crude oil inventories unexpectedly fell from record highs last week as refineries continued to hike output and imports fell while gauging the possibility of an output freeze by producers.
Russian sources told Reuters Russia believed $45-$50 per barrel was an acceptable price for the oil market to re-balance and said there were now discussions on how long to freeze production and how to monitor it.
Brent crude futures jumped 3.9 percent to $39.34 per barrel, off a one-month low of $37.27 hit on Tuesday, while U.S. crude futures surged 4.5 percent to $37.51 a barrel, the biggest rise since March 17.
In bond markets, the bounce in oil and modest lift in risk appetite prompted investors to sell safe-haven government debt ahead of the Fed minutes with benchmark 10-year Treasuries were down 8/32 in price to yield 1.7532 percent.
(Additional reporting by Dion Rabouin)
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