The U.S. dollar was sporting a firmer profile against most of the major currencies but is largely confined to Tuesday's ranges. The yen is a main exception and has been bid higher across the board as risk appetite wanes.

The market continues to wrestle with two main issues -- the state of European bank balance sheets and the continued string of economic data warning of a loss of momentum. The report by the Committee of European Bank Supervisors is awaited for insight into the pending European bank stress tests. The report may be the key event of the session, underscored by the absence of first-tier U.S. economic releases. Most emerging market currencies are also under pressure Wednesday in the more risk-averse environment.

Global equity markets were lower. The snapping of the seven-day losing streak in the Dow Jones Industrial Average offered little comfort in Asia where the MSCI Asia-Pacific Index slipped 0.7%. Japanese multinationals were squeezed by the strength of the yen, which also spurred calls for Japanese automakers. The Nikkei eased 0.6%.

The Shanghai Composite Index bucked the regional trend by rising 1.3%, perhaps helped by a Securities Times report that the country's national pension fund recently bought 2 billion yuan (about $295 million) worth of stock. European bourses were 1.5% to 1.8% lower near midday in London. Poor corporate news appears to be taking a toll. CRH, the world's second largest maker and distributor of building materials, had disappointing news and this is dragging down the entire construction sector. Financials are also a particular weak sector, if not the worst-performing sector. Nervousness over the stress tests is a key concern.

U.S. Treasuries, U.K. gilts and German bunds are benefiting from a safe-haven bid Wednesday. There is some pressure on the peripheral bonds. Although Greek credit-default swap prices rose, the yields for cash bonds fell and are the main exception. Portugal successfully sold € 762 million of six-month bills Wednesday. The average yield was 1.947%. This is about 100 basis points less than the yield on six-month bills sold in early May. The successful auction failed to deter selling of Portuguese bonds -- both the two-year and 10-year yields are rising among the most in Europe Wednesday. Three-month euro LIBOR rose slightly but sufficient enough to lift it to new 10-month highs just below 75 basis points.
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