Stocks set record highs, oil jumps on inventory drop | Reuters

By Richard Leong

NEW YORK Global stock prices posted record highs for a third straight session on Thursday, propelled by an oil rally after a surprise drop in U.S. crude inventories and comments by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about pursuing significant tax reform. The dollar was bogged down a day after minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's Jan. 31-Feb. 1 policy meeting showed the central bank was in no rush to raise interest rates. Treasury and euro zone government bond yields declined as ECB policymakers also signaled they were not getting carried away by signs the euro zone economy is gathering strength.This outlook for policy accommodation lifted gold prices to a three-month high near $1,250 an ounce.Equity markets around the world have advanced this year as traders bet on tax cuts, less regulation and more infrastructure spending from U.S. President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress to bolster the U.S. economy.Details on these stimulus programs have been sparse, raising doubts whether bigger corporate profits will materialize.On Thursday, Mnuchin spoke of wanting to see "very significant" tax reform passed before Congress' August recess and said the Trump administration was looking closely at border tax issues.

"That's starting to put some details on tax reform. That's reigniting some of the animal spirits," said Bill Northey, chief investment officer for the private client group at U.S. Bank in Helena, Montana.The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 46 nations, rose 0.48 points or 0.11 percent, to 446.52 after touching a record peak at 447.67.On Wall Street, the Dow booked an all-time intraday high for a 10th straight day, while S&P 500 touched a record high before retreating. In morning trading, the Dow rose 22.48 points, or 0.11 percent, to 20,798.08, the S&P 500 lost 1.81 points, or 0.08 percent, to 2,361.01 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 27.04 points, or 0.46 percent, to 5,833.58.

Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index dipped 0.07 percent at 1,471.82, scaling back further from its 14-month peak set on Wednesday.MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.89 points or 0.19 percent, to 471.69, after reaching its highest since July 2015 earlier Thursday.Gains in energy shares due to a jump in oil prices helped lift the equity market.

Brent crude was last up $1.18, or 2.11 percent, at $57.02 a barrel. U.S. crude was last up $1.09, or 2.03 percent, at $54.68.A weaker dollar in the wake of Fed minutes that were perceived as less hawkish whet appetite for gold and bonds.The dollar index slipped 0.26 percent at 100.95.The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield was down over 2 basis points at 2.392 percent after hitting a two-week low. German 10-year Bund yield decreased 2 basis points at 0.251 percent, hovering at its lowest level since early January. Spot gold prices rose $8.80 or 0.71 percent, to $1,246.11 an ounce. (Additional reporting by Marc Jones, Nigel Stephenson, Atul Prakash and Dhara Ranasinghe in London, Nichola Saminather in Singapore, Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo; Editing by Catherine Evans and Nick Zieminski)

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Updated Date: Feb 23, 2017 22:30:07 IST

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