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GLOBAL MARKETS--Stocks march on as Fed rate hike looms, dollar steady

GLOBAL MARKETS--Stocks march on as Fed rate hike looms, dollar steady
From Reuters - June 14, 2017

LONDON Stocks rose on Wednesday, but worries about stretched valuations and caution before a near-certain rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve kept their gains in check, while the dollar steadied against a basket of major currencies.

The widely expected quarter-point interest rate hike will take the Fed funds target rate above 1 percent for the first time since the immediate aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Market participants' focus will be on signals on the frequency of further hikes and how the Fed plans to unwind its huge Treasury bond stockpile over the years ahead.

The U.S. central bank is scheduled to release its decision at 1800 GMT on Wednesday with a news conference to follow from Chair Janet Yellen.

"With financial conditions remaining supportive ... and US financials breaking higher, the Fed may see little reason to moderate its rate hike projections when meeting today," strategists at Morgan Stanley said in a note to clients.

The U.S. bank expects the dollar to gain 2 percent against major currencies over the next few weeks.

On Wednesday, the dollar index .DXY barely budged as slightly firmer moves against the euro EUR= and yen JPY= were offset by losses against the commodity bloc of currencies, such as the Australian and Canadian dollars.

Worries about the pace of global growth and weakness in markets for the commodities they produce drove a 5-percent slide in the values of both Australia's AUD=D4 and Canada's CAD=D4 dollars between March and May.

Relatively upbeat economic data from China and a surge in expectations of higher Canadian interest rates have helped currencies of commodities-related economies.

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