The U.S. dollar remains largely on the defensive despite the recovery in North America Tuesday. The euro slipped to almost $1.3380 in Asia, but has recovered smartly in Europe, but it is sterling that is the standout Wednesday. While the euro has made a lower low each day this week, sterling by contrast has made a higher low and a higher high each day. Often it appears sterling is in demand ahead of the quarter-end, frequently amid talk of official interest. While the dollar is heavy against the European currencies, its gains have been extended against the yen. The greenback reached JPY93.60, just shy of the year's highs set in early April near JPY93.77. The dollar has also firmed against the Australian dollar, in which an unexpected decline in retail sales and weak building approvals gave the market second thoughts about a Reserve Bank of Australia rate hike next week, despite the recent hawkish comments by RBA Governor Stevens. Short-term technical indicators warn that it may be difficult for the market to sustain the momentum. North American participants appear to be somewhat less dollar negative. The risk is for the dollar to recover against the European currencies, while seeing its gains against the yen pared back. Asian equities were mostly lower Wednesday, while European bourses are holding on to minor gains. The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index is off a little more than 0.5% as most markets saw month-end profit-taking. The 5.4% gain this month is the best performance since last July. Raw materials and the financial sector in particular were soft. European bourses are up about 0.2% to 0.5%, led by technology and basic materials. Of note, the Irish banks that had been hit hard earlier this week have rallied back. The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 is up almost 7.7%. The S&P 500 looks a tad softer, but with two sessions left in the mont but is up about 6.25%. Global bond markets are generally quiet, but with two notable exceptions. First, U.K. gilts are outperforming Wednesday with a 5 basis points decline in the 10-year yield and is now off 10 basis points since last Friday. Initially, it looked like the gilts were going to wilt after the U.K.'s Debt Management Office announced Tuesday that it would issue 4.5 British pound five-year gilts next week, but recovered fully Wednesday.