Fed minutes show no decision made on bond taper U.S. housing starts fall, weighs on dollar By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss NEW YORK, Aug 18 — The dollar slipped to trade little changed on Wednesday after minutes of the last month's Federal Reserve meeting suggested there was no consensus about the timing of a lifting of its asset purchases under the U.S. central bank's quantitative easing program. A reduction in debt purchases is typically positive for the dollar as it means the Fed will not be flooding the financial system with cash, increasing the value of the greenback. The minutes also said that most participants judged that the committee's standard of'substantial additional progress' towards the maximum employment goal hadn't yet been met. This means that Fed policy would remain accommodative for some time, providing no support for the dollar. The market read the minutes as more dovish, leading to a quick uptick in indices and gold when Treasury yields and the U.S. dollar dipped sharply, Matt Weller, global head of research at FOREX.com and City Index, wrote in a note sent after the release of the Fed comments. The focus now shifts to the federal government's Jackson Hole Symposium next week, where traders will closely scrutinize Powell's keynote speech for any hints about the timing of a taper announcement, Weller added, referring to the Fed's annual economic symposium in Wyoming. In afternoon trading, the dollar index was small changed at 93.137, sliding from a 4 - 1 2 month high of 93.267 The dollar was at a peak against the euro after the release of Fed minutes, climbing from its highest since April 1. It was the last flat at $1.1712. The dollar gained ground earlier as nagging concerns about the global economy forced investors to seek safety in greenbacks. Markets are always lagging with macro risks, says Simon Harvey, FX market analyst at Monex Europe in London. We have the risk of a slowing Chinese economy, rising Delta cases in the Asia Pacific region and slower growth generally. In the United States, U.S. housing starts dropped 7.0% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.534 million units last month. The dollar rose against the yen 2% to 109.85. The commodity-linked currencies like Australian and New Zealand dollars trimmed losses against the greenback after publication of Fed minutes. The Australian Dollar was last down 0.2% at US$7244, while the New Zealand currency fell 0.4% to US$6892. A monthly survey of asset managers by BoFA Securities flipped investors for the first time to a net overweight on the dollar in nearly a year. That shift in positioning was evident in more weekly high-frequency data as well with hedge funds ramping up their net long bets on the greenback to the most since March 2020. The dollar did not draw any sustained strength from Fed Chair Jerome Powell's remarks and mixed U.S. data; Markets shifted focus toward the Jackson Hole symposium where some expect the Fed to signal a change in direction with regard to its asset purchase plans. Bitcoin traded up 1.8% at $45,504, not far from Thursday's three-month high of $48,190. Ether stood up to $3,064, up 1.8%.