* Global stocks hit record high, Wall St seen opening lower
* Markets await Fed minutes for rate hike clues
* Sterling dips vs dollar after 2016 GDP growth revised down
* Graphic: World FX rates in 2017 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
By Nigel Stephenson
LONDON, Feb 22 Global stocks hit record highs on
Wednesday, topping 2016's gains just two months into 2017, while
the dollar rose before Federal Reserve minutes that will be
scoured for clues about the next U.S. interest rate rise.
MSCI's main index of global stocks, which
tracks share prices across 46 countries, hit a second successive
record high. It has risen some 5.7 percent so far this year,
beating the 5.6 percent gains of 2016.
However, Wall Street looked set to open lower, index futures
suggested, and European shares edged lower after failing to
maintain early gains.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index dipped 0.1 percent
on Wednesday, led lower by miners as metals prices fell.
Heavyweights Anglo American and BHP Billiton
lost 3.6 and 2.6 percent respectively.
On the plus side, Britain's Lloyds Banking Group
was up 3.8 percent after reporting its highest full-year profit
in a decade.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
rose 0.6 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng
rose 1 percent but Japan's Nikkei <.N225. bucked the trend,
closing marginally lower as the yen strengthened.
Relatively strong earnings seasons in Europe and the United
States, forecast-beating economic data and U.S. President Donald
Trump's promises of tax reform, less regulation and more
infrastructure spending have all helped lift stocks this year.
All three main U.S. indexes hit record closing highs on
The day's most anticipated event for markets will be the
release of the minutes of the Fed's last policy meeting.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen said last week it was likely the
central bank would need to raise rates at an upcoming meeting.
Markets have priced in only a slim chance of a rise next month
but a much greater likelihood by June.
The dollar rose 0.3 percent against a basket of major
currencies and 0.3 percent versus the euro.
The single currency has suffered recently on investor
worries about European politics, particularly in France where
anti-euro, far-right party leader Marine Le Pen leads polls
before presidential elections in April and May.
"This is politics as well as markets increasingly betting on
an imminent rate hike by the Fed," said Commerzbank strategist
Thu Lan Nguyen. "Volatility is rising as investors start to
prepare for the elections."
Sterling dipped 0.3 percent to $1.2435 after revised
data showed the UK economy grew at its fastest pace in a year in
the last three months of 2016 but by less than previously
estimated for the whole of 2016.
The pound rose 0.1 percent to 84.4 pence per euro.
Euro/sterling closed below its 200-day moving average, a
long-term gauge watched closely by fund managers, on Tuesday for
the first time since December 2015.
The yen rose 0.5 percent to 113.12 per dollar.
European politics and the prospect of higher U.S. rates
pushed the gap between short-dated U.S. and German government
bond yields to its widest in nearly 17 years.
German two-year yields hit a record low of minus
0.91 percent while U.S. equivalents touched 1.24 percent.
Analysts said jitters over the French vote have stoked
demand for top-quality debt. Bottlenecks caused by the European
Central Bank's bond-buying programme and upcoming regulatory
changes have amplified the decline the yields.
"There are a host of special factors driving two-year German
bond yields lower and on the other side of the Atlantic we have
the Fed contemplating another hike, which is driving up U.S.
equivalents," ING strategist Martin van Vliet said.
German 10-year yields fell 5 basis points to
0.26 percent, their lowest in more than a month.
Oil prices dipped as the dollar rose but held near their
multi-week high. Brent crude, the international benchmark,
traded at $56.37 a barrel, down 29 cents.
Copper also fell, as traders reduced their positions before
the Fed minutes, though supply disruptions supported prices. The
metal last traded at $6,030 a tonne, down 0.5 percent on
the day. Nickel, zinc, aluminium and tin
Gold edged up 0.1 percent to $1,237 an ounce.
For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock
markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets
(Additional reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo; Editing by