The perception change on the Fed's thinking also prompted the dollar
to fall to near its mid-March low against a basket of currencies,
while U.S. short-term yields also hit three-week lows.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
<.MIAPJ0000PUS> rose 0.2 percent to hit a five-month high while
Japan's Nikkei <.N225> jumped 1.2 percent from a two-week low hit
the previous day.
The minutes showed Federal Reserve officials fretted last month that
investors would overreact to policymakers' latest views on interest
rates that appeared to map out a more aggressive cycle of rate hikes
than was actually anticipated.
"It's not so much that the Fed was dovish but the Fed has turned out
not to have become hawkish. People were nervous as it was the first
meeting under Yellen," said Tohru Yamamoto, chief fixed income
strategist at Daiwa Securities.
The perceived dovish tone of the minutes, from a March 18-19 Federal
Open Market Committee meeting lifted all three major U.S. stock
indexes more than 1 percent, with recently battered internet and
biotech stocks among the day's biggest gainers.
It also sparked a wave of buying of short- and intermediate-term
government debt, pushing yields to their lowest levels in three
Investors are pushing back expectations of the Fed's first rate to
late 2016, with federal funds futures now pricing it in around
October, compared to around August about a week ago.
[to top of second column]
As lower short-term rates and bond yields typically reduce the
relative attraction of a currency against others, the dollar came
under broad pressure.
The dollar index stood at 79.51 <.DXY>, within sight of 79.268 hit
on March 13 and its 2013 low around 79.00 hit twice last year.
The euro traded at $1.3855, having recovered from a five-week low of
$1.3705 hit last Friday after fairly upbeat U.S. employment data.
The dollar fetched 102.05 yen, near Tuesday's three-week low of
101.55 yen while the Australian dollar held near a five-month high
Oil prices were also firm, helped by unexpectedly high U.S. gasoline
demand as well as tensions between Russia and the West as eastern
Ukraine is rocked by unrest.
U.S. crude futures stood at $103.40 per barrel, having risen as high
as $103.77 on Wednesday, the highest level since early March.
(Editing by Eric Meijer)
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