NEW YORK (Reuters) - An index of global stocks on Wednesday climbed to near its highest point of the year while the dollar weakened as easing concerns about potential interest rate increases led investors into riskier assets.
Oil prices edged higher, paring stronger initial gains as U.S. crude inventories built up.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Tuesday the U.S. central bank should proceed cautiously as it looks to raise interest rates, pushing back on a handful of her colleagues who had suggested another move may be just around the corner.
Yellen's comments were echoed on Wednesday by Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, who said there was a high hurdle to raising rates in April, given low inflation.
"It’s been a pretty nice couple of days here thanks to the Fed after they caused some angst earlier in the week," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 83.55 points, or 0.47 percent, to 17,716.66, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 8.94 points, or 0.44 percent, to 2,063.95 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 22.67 points, or 0.47 percent, to 4,869.29.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 advanced 1.3 percent.
MSCI's index of world shares .MIWD00000PUS gained 1.1 percent. The index pulled back from stronger earlier-session gains that had put it in positive territory for 2016.
After sliding on Tuesday against a basket of major currencies, the dollar .DXY fell another 0.3 percent. It is down about 4 percent this year and on track to post its biggest quarterly percentage decline in five years. The euro EUR= rose 0.4 percent against the dollar on Wednesday.
Traders are "trying to digest the dovish (Yellen) comments and assess whether this is a real turning point for the Fed," said Steven Englander, managing director and global head of G10 FX strategy at Citigroup in New York.
U.S. private employers added 200,000 jobs in March, above economists' expectations, a report by a payrolls processor showed.
Oil prices gained, buttressed by the weak dollar, which makes commodities denominated in the greenback more attractive to users of other currencies. But they pulled back as a report showed that U.S. crude stockpiles rose 2.3 million barrels last week.
U.S. crude prices CLc1 settled up 4 cents at $38.32 a barrel, after rising about 3 percent earlier, while benchmark Brent LCOc1 settled up 12 cents at $39.26 a barrel.
Oil prices have rebounded about 50 percent since mid-February after major producers within and outside OPEC floated the idea of freezing production at January's highs.
Shorter-dated U.S. Treasury yields fell as traders piled on bets the Fed would raise interest rates gradually in the coming months. Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes US10YT=RR traded down 5/32 in price, to yield 1.8281 percent.
Additional reporting by Dion Rabouin, Sam Forgione and Barani Krishnan in New York, John Geddie and Jemima Kelly in London; Editing by Nick Zieminski