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Dollar hits six-year peak vs yen, stocks rally

A man walks past the London Stock Exchange in the City of London October 11, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Investors focused on an increase in the Federal Reserve's interest rate forecast boosted the dollar to a more than six-year peak against the yen, while global equity markets rallied and the Dow and S&P 500 set fresh record highs on the Fed's unchanged timeline for eventual rate hikes.

Leading British shares rose as investors bet Scotland would remain in the United Kingdom after Thursday's referendum.

A Thomson Reuters basket of 12 stocks listed on Britain's FTSE 350 index (.FTLC), based in Scotland, has slowly risen over the last two weeks. (http://link.reuters.com/wej72w)

The dollar index (.DXY), a gauge of the greenback's value against six currencies, hit a high last seen more than four years ago, lifted by the Federal Reserve's forecasts for short-term rates on Wednesday that were higher than those projected in June.

Higher rates make the dollar more attractive, but at the end of a two-day policy-setting meeting on Wednesday the Fed also renewed a pledge to keep longer rates low for a unspecified "considerable time."

The dollar index and the euro retreated after the British pound climbed as much as 0.83 percent to $1.6408 versus the dollar on anticipation Scotland would remain in the UK. The pound last traded up 0.6 percent at $1.6370.

"The dollar will be in a consolidation phase in the short term after yesterday's sharp gains," said Greg Moore, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

The dollar rose as high as 108.96, the strongest since August 2008, and last traded at 108.76, up 0.36 percent.

The euro rebounded, rising 0.4 percent to $1.2917.

Wall Street rallied, with both the benchmark S&P 500 and Dow indexes setting new intraday highs.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) closed up 109.14 points, or 0.64 percent, to 17,265.99. The S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 9.79 points, or 0.49 percent, to 2,011.36 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) climbed 31.24 points, or 0.68 percent, to 4,593.43.

In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3) index of top regional shares closed up 0.93 percent at 1,398.03. MSCI's all-country world index <.MIWD00000PUS> rose 0.3 percent to 428.76.

U.S. Treasury debt prices turned down, with investors driving some shorter-maturity yields to highs not seen since May 2011 after the Fed on Wednesday raised its forecasts for some interest rates.

Yields on two-year notes touched a high of 0.597 percent before settling back.

Yields on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were up to 2.6217 percent on a price decline of 6/32.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, suggesting a sharp slowdown in August job growth was probably an anomaly.

While other U.S. data on Thursday showed some weakness in home building and factory activity, the underlying trend remained supportive of solid economic growth.

Crude oil fell, pressured by ample supply, concerns about demand growth and a stronger dollar.

A strong dollar makes dollar-priced commodities such as oil more expensive for buyers using other currencies and tends to weigh on oil prices.

Brent (LCOc1) settled down $1.27 at $97.70 a barrel, while U.S. crude fell $1.35 to settle at $93.07 a day after dropping on government data that showed U.S. crude inventories rose 3.7 million barrels last week. [EIA/S]

(Editing by Meredith Mazzilli, Dan Grebler and Bernadette Baum)