Concerns over Europe's fiscal problems hit the euro and sterling on Wednesday, while world stocks hovered near their recent six-week highs, though they were still up 66 percent from a low hit one year ago.

Copper rose on the back of strong trade data from China, a big metal consumer. Crude prices, however, were flat on worries over higher U.S. inventories.

The euro was down 0.2 percent against the U.S. currency at $1.3575, extending Tuesday's weakness after ratings agency Fitch said it still had a negative outlook on Portugal's credit rating.

Sterling hit one-week lows against dollar and euro in early London trading hours on concerns over its sovereign rating and apprehensions about the credit ratings of UK banks. It lost 0.4 percent to trade below $1.50 at $1.4929.

Fiscal concerns are resulting in extreme pessimism for both currencies in the near term, said Lee Hardman, currency economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

The dollar was up 0.2 percent against a basket of currency.

World stocks measured in the MSCI All-Country World Index was flat at 300.61, hovering near a six-week high of 301.61 reached on Monday.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.1 percent, and Greece's share benchmark advanced 1.2 percent as worries over the country's debt problems eased after Athens last week announced more austerity measures and secured 5 billion euros of debt funding from the market.

But some analysts were cautious about equities' outlook.

I have an impression that we are very much near the top. All the people who were bullish have bought already so there is nobody left to buy, said Koen De Leus, economist at KBC Securities. There are a lot of sentiment indicators that really indicate to rough times ahead.

Asian shares outside of Japan put on 0.4 percent to hit a seven-week high as Chinese data showed exports and imports in February were better than expected.

The news boosted copper prices and the Australian dollar, which jumped to above $0.915 as China is the biggest buyer of Australia's commodity exports.

Copper prices advanced 0.5 percent and gold was also 0.5 percent higher. Oil prices were steady to trade above $81.50 a barrel.


Euro zone government bond prices drifted lower as investors prepared for what could be the second-heaviest week of supply so far this year.

Germany will issue 6 billion euros of two-year Schatz at 1000 GMT (5:00 a.m. ET) and up to 1 billion euros of an index-linked 10-year Bundei at 1100 GMT.

But the biggest test could come from Portugal which issues 750 million euros -- possibly as much as 1 billion euros -- of 4.95 percent April 2021 OTs.

The June Bund future was down seven ticks at 122.76. The two-year Schatz yield was 3.6 basis points higher at 0.915 percent, while the 10-year Bund yield was up 0.7 basis points at 3.142 percent.

(Additional reporting by Umesh Desai in Hong Kong, and Tamawa Desai, Atul Prakash and George Matlock in London)