* Dollar recovers from lows before Fed policy statement
* Rouble recovers as buyers step in
* ECB policymaker comments hurt euro (Updates prices, adds comments, changes byline, dateline; previous LONDON)
By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK, Dec 17 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar rebounded against major currencies on Wednesday on expectations that the Federal Reserve would signal rate hikes were on track, while the rouble recovered as buyers stepped in to pick up the Russian currency at cheaper levels.
Anticipation that the Fed would drop its use of the phrase “considerable time” to describe how long interest rates will stay near zero in its final policy statement of the year, due at 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT), boosted the greenback.
“The market is preparing itself for a change in the Fed language,” said currency strategist Mark McCormick of Credit Agricole in New York. He said if the Fed were to drop the phrase, traders would assume the central bank will hike rates as soon as June of next year.
Rate increases are expected to boost the greenback by driving investment flows into the United States.
The dollar fell against the rouble, however, on the view that the Russian currency’s collapse this year may have gone too far. While Brent crude still traded near 5-1/2-year lows below $60 a barrel, analysts said its free fall may be stabilizing.
Tumbling oil prices threaten Russia’s economy since sales of oil and gas are Russia’s chief source of export revenue.
“People have interest in taking advantage of a currency that is overshot,” said Greg Anderson, global head of FX strategy at BMO Capital Markets in New York.
The dollar was last down 9.7 percent against the rouble to trade at 61.66 roubles.
The euro fell on comments from European Central Bank policymaker Benoit Coeure, who said he sees a broad consensus on the bank’s Governing Council for more action, with buying government bonds “the baseline option,” according to a Wall Street Journal interview.
“This raises the probability, from something like 80 percent to 85 percent, of the ECB implementing sovereign (quantitative easing) in January,” said Anderson of BMO.
The euro was last down 0.8 percent against the dollar at $1.2407. The dollar was up 0.8 percent against the Swiss franc at 0.9677 franc, and gained 0.77 percent against the yen at 117.30 yen.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies, was last up 0.47 percent at 88.450.
On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 stock index was up 0.46 percent. (Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)