Global equities edged higher on Wednesday, led by banks after a report that global banking regulators are eyeing delaying the implementation of new capital rules, while gold and crude prices were also in demand.
The dollar eased from a 2-1/2 month high versus the euro as investors waited for more clues on when the Federal Reserve might start tightening, and safe-haven government bonds were steady.
Banking shares advanced after sources said global regulators would give banks a grace period before forcing them to implement stricter capital rules, easing concern lenders would need to issue huge amounts of shares in the near future.
That is good news for banks, said Howard Wheeldon, strategist at BGC Partners in London.
Global equities measured in the MSCI All-Country World Index put on 0.3 percent. In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 index added 1 percent and the DJ STOXX European banks index rose 2 percent -- the best performing sector in the region.
U.S. stock index futures were up 0.5-0.7 percent, indicating a firmer opening at Wall Street.
Overnight, Tokyo's Nikkei average advanced 0.9 percent to hit its highest close in seven weeks, with bank shares the leading gainers.
We are overweight equities, but are reducing beta and cyclical exposure. Headwinds for equities are rising but are not sufficient to kill the rally yet, Morgan Stanley said in a report.
The year (2010) will start strong -- we see 10-15 percent upside in equities from here -- but think that markets will have overshot fair value. We expect only single-digit return for global developed equities for the full year, but the risks are slanted to a worse outcome.
The MSCI All-Country World Index has rallied 73 percent since hitting a low in early March, and is up more than 30 percent for the year, on track for its best yearly performance since 2003. The dollar dipped against a basket of major currencies, with the euro up 0.2 percent at $1.4559. The U.S. currency was flat against the yen at 89.70.
A rise in U.S. wholesale prices last month, which pushed up Treasury yields overnight, prompted speculation the Fed may have to account for these pressures in its post-meeting statement, though Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a letter to a congressman that inflation is not a problem.
The Fed is expected to stick to its super-loose monetary policy stance as high unemployment constrains policymakers' enthusiasm about the economy's recent improvement.
With the global economy gradually recovering from the worst slump in generations, investors are carefully weighing when central banks and governments will begin withdrawing massive emergency stimulus measures, and if they can unwind such policies without disrupting financial markets.
Crude prices traded above $71 a barrel after snapping a nine-day losing streak a day earlier, while gold prices were up 0.7 percent at $1,132.50 an ounce.
Yields on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries were down 1 basis point at 3.586 percent, while those on 10-year Bunds were up 3 basis points at 3.267 percent.