The dollar rallied and U.S. Treasury yields jumped on Wednesday, lifted by a more optimistic view of the economy by the U.S. Federal Reserve and news that most U.S. banks passed stress tests.
The greenback hit the latest in a series of 11-month highs against the yen and notched a one-month high against the euro.
Yields on U.S. Treasuries hit their highest level since October and German 10-year bond yields spiked to a three-week high as demand for safe-haven government debt waned.
Stocks in Europe closed at a near 8-month high, helped as well by a drop in Italy's borrowing costs at an auction.
Equities are getting the message that they are cheap relative to bonds, which is the other side of bonds getting the message that they are extremely expensive, said Alan Ruskin, head of G10 currency strategy at Deutsche Bank in New York.
But U.S. equities were choppy after a five-session rally took indices to multi-year highs in the previous session.
We are still not seeing the kind of volume that would suggest this is comprehensively being bought into by all investors, said Gordon Charlop, a managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York. But people are able to tolerate more risk now.
The key takeaway is, can we hold (Tuesday's) gains?
The Fed said late on Tuesday it expects moderate growth over coming quarters, with the unemployment rate declining gradually, versus the modest growth the central bank said it expected in January.
Many analysts took the view that a further round of asset buying by the U.S. central bank is now less likely.
The Fed also said that most of the largest U.S. banks passed their annual test of how they would fare in an economic crisis, a report that underscored the recovery of the financial sector but called out a few laggards, including Citigroup Inc
Certainly this is good news for the overall domestic financial system, said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in Bedford Hills, New York.
It really shows banks have turned themselves around, raised capital significantly and are being much smarter and less aggressive about their capital positions, and that should give investors confidence in the system.
Hints of a brighter outlook crept across the Atlantic as a slight rise in euro zone industrial production data for January ended two consecutive monthly falls and pointed toward the bloc's eventual recovery.
But the impact of high oil prices kept optimism in check, weighing on growth prospects and dampening hopes that the effects of Europe's debt crisis might be easing.
In contrast, economists in a Reuters poll said the U.S. economy will gain traction this year after a sluggish first quarter, even as the potential threat from higher oil prices pushes analysts to raise their inflation expectations.
The Fed's latest statement, which made no direct mention of policy easing, was in line with recent stances adopted by the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan to wait and see the impact of measures already taken.
Major central banks, including the Fed, ECB and the BoJ, have stepped off the gas pedal and we'll likely need another deterioration in economic data before additional liquidity is provided, analysts at Morgan Stanley said in a note.
Stocks in the United States seesawed, with key indices dipping into and out of negative territory through the session.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 10.25 points, or 0.08 percent, to 13,187.93. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> dropped 1.80 points, or 0.13 percent, to 1,394.15. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 0.04 points, or 0.00 percent, to 3,039.92.
The FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top European shares unofficially ended 0.3 percent higher at 1,099.09 points, its highest closing level in nearly eight months. Banks paced the gains, with Natixis
The MSCI world equity index <.MIWD00000PUS> dipped 0.22 percent.
The dollar rose 1.04 percent to 83.72 yen. The euro weakened 0.48 percent to $1.3019, touching its lowest since February 16.
It may prove a temporary phase, but at present the U.S. dollar is benefiting from higher relative yields reflecting the outperformance of the U.S. economy over other major developed economies, said Lee Hardman, currency economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.
The upsurge in risk appetite crimped demand for safe-haven government debt. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 43/32, with the yield at 2.2776 percent.
Brent and U.S. crude dipped in choppy trading as data showed a big jump last week in crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, hub and an overall rise in crude inventories that was in line with expectations, countering drops in refined products stocks.
Brent crude slipped 0.67 percent to $125.38 a barrel. U.S. crude dropped 0.46 percent to $106.22 per barrel.
(Additional reporting by Ellen Freilich Rodrigo Campos and Chuck Mikolajczak in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler and Andrea Evans)