The U.S. dollar fell to a four-month low on Wednesday, its safe haven appeal eroded by optimism about a global economic recovery and concerns about the United States' fiscal health.

Oil prices neared $60 a barrel and helped energy shares.

World stocks as measured by MSCI gained 0.2 percent after two consecutive days of moderate losses.

The dollar hit a four-month low against a basket of currencies and a seven-week trough versus the euro.

Traders said the dollar also came under pressure due to an article in the Financial Times that touched on the risk of the United States losing its triple-A credit rating and refocused attention on rising U.S. debt issuance.

A recent recovery in risk appetite across financial markets has left the U.S. currency vulnerable.

The focus turned toward topics that are negative for the United States such as the fiscal deficit, said chief foreign exchange strategist for Daiwa Securities SMBC.

The dollar index, which measures its performance against a basket of six currencies, hit a four-month low of 81.871 <.DXY> but was later at 82.08 down 0.3 percent.

Reflecting the gradual return in confidence, the three-month dollar London interbank offered rate (LIBOR) marked a record low of 0.906 percent on Tuesday.

In early London trading on Wednesday, interbank lending rates slipped again.


Equity markets were flat to higher, with the pan-European FTSEurofirst <.FTEU3) virtually unchanged. Japan's Nikkei <.N225> gained 0.45 percent.

Analysts said that despite some profit-taking this week, market sentiment has improved.

The nadir that was March 2009 has been long forgotten, as talk of 'green shoots' replacing 'credit crunch' as the phrase of the moment, said Chris Hossain, senior sales manager at ODL Securities.

Whether realistic or not, more and more people are buying in to the recovery play, looking for undervalued stocks as opposed to the next big faller.

In one indication of the new sentiment, the CBOE Volatility Index <.VIX>, the implied volatility measure of the S&P 500 index <.SPX>, posted its lowest level since late September on Tuesday.

On euro zone government bonds markets, yields were little changed. The 10-year Bund yielded 3.406 percent, while the 2-year Schatz yield was little changed at 1.378 percent.

(Additional reporting by Atul Prakash and Masayuki Kitano, editing by Mike Peacock)