* European shares follow Asia higher
* Dollar trades flat, euro edges up
* Fed statement due 1800 GMT, followed by Yellen
* Brent crude dips towards $53 a barrel on supply
By Nigel Stephenson
LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) - European shares followed Asian stocks higher on Wednesday and the dollar held steady before a Federal Reserve meeting that's expected to lay the groundwork for the first increase in U.S. interest rates in nearly a decade.
The Fed is widely expected to remove the word "patient" from its statement on the timing of its first hike since 2006, possibly paving the way for policy tightening as early as June.
"Our base case is that they will remove `patience'. If we get that and a measured message on the dollar's impact on inflation then, given the slight retracement we have seen in the first half of this week, I think the dollar will do well," said Michael Sneyd, a currency strategist with BNP Paribas in London.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 stocks index
Earlier, shares rose across Asia. Tokyo's Nikkei index
Chinese stocks rose for a sixth successive session in
anticipation of fresh government stimulus. The CSI300 index
MSCI's main index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
The dollar, which has risen more than 20 percent against major currencies over the past year in anticipation of higher U.S. rates, held steady before the Fed announcement, due at 1800 GMT, and a news conference by Fed Chair Janet Yellen 30 minutes later.
While the trajectory of U.S. rates is clear, some analysts say recent weak economic data may delay any move beyond June.
"The impact from the dollar's rally already represents a form of tightening, so the Fed is in no rush to raise interest rates," said Philippe Ithurbide, head of research, analysis and strategy at Amundi. The first increase might not come until after September, he said.
Against a basket of its peers, the U.S. currency was down
less than 0.1 percent
U.S. Treasury yields
Sterling was flat at $1.4746
Political uncertainty pushed the pound to a five-year low against the dollar on Friday. Depending on the outcome, the election could trigger a referendum on whether Britain will stay in the European Union.
German government bond yields fell before an auction of
10-year debt expected to meet strong demand, amid concern the
ECB's bond-buying will lead to a scarcity of top-rated debt.
Brent crude oil edged down towards $53 a barrel after a
forecast that U.S. crude stockpiles would reach record highs,
maintaining a global supply glut. Brent
Gold lifted off four-month lows, with market participants
cautious before the Fed announcement. Spot gold
(Additional reporting by Blaise Robinson in Paris, Patrick Graham in London and Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo; Editing by Larry King) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +44 20 7542 8682; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))
Keywords: MARKETS GLOBAL/