(Adds oil, gold settlement prices)
* Nasdaq, S&P 500, Dow industrials scale new highs
* Growth stocks lead rally, reversal of gains this year
* Spanish, Italian bond yields at highest since November
* Oil prices settle little changed, gold steady
NEW YORK, Jan 21 (Reuters) - World stock markets racked up
record highs on Thursday and the dollar fell as investors bet
major stimulus from new U.S. President Joe Biden and unswerving
global central bank support would cushion the coronavirus'
damage and bolster growth.
The euro edged up as the European Central
Bank's first policy meeting of the year brought no change to its
Asian stocks reached new highs overnight, Wall Street rose
to touch new peaks and MSCI's global index of stock performance
in 50 countries gained 0.28%.
But European stocks lost steam at the close, weighed down by
oil and real estate shares, while the ECB warned a surge in
COVID-19 infections posed a risk to the euro zone's recovery.
The pan-European STOXX 600 stock index ended flat
after rising as much as 0.8% earlier in the session.
Energy majors BP, Royal Dutch Shell and
Total each fell more than 2% as oil prices slipped
after data showed a surprise increase in U.S. crude inventories.
The three major indexes on Wall Street trended higher in
early trade, though declining shares slightly outnumbered
gainers. The S&P 500 posted 21 new 52-week highs and the Nasdaq
Composite recorded 188 new highs.
This year's early trend of investors piling into cyclical
stocks has reverted to buying of large-cap growth stocks that
led last year's rally post-pandemic, said Tim Ghriskey, chief
investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York.
"It's a reverse of what's happened year-to-date through
Tuesday. Today and yesterday were decidedly a growth market,
especially big-cap tech plus," Ghriskey said.
"There's concern about distribution of the vaccine."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.17%, the S&P
500 gained 0.22% and the Nasdaq Composite added
Treasury yields were mostly higher and the yield curve
steepened after U.S. labor market data showed new claims for
jobless benefits, while elevated, declined modestly last week.
The data eased concerns that the U.S. labor market could
deteriorate further, said Guy LeBas, chief fixed income
strategist at Janney Capital Management in Philadelphia.
"Having a flat or slightly improved data point for the
second week of January helps argue that the trend is not toward
rising claims," LeBas said.
Italian and Spanish benchmark bond yields rose to their
highest since early November, a move analysts attributed largely
to the ECB saying it may not use the firepower of its
pandemic-geared bond purchases in full.
The ECB kept its deposit rate unchanged at -0.5% and
maintained the overall quota for bond purchases at 1.85 trillion
euros, as expected.
The dollar index fell 0.303%, with the euro up
0.45% to $1.2158, amid expectations of a Biden stimulus push and
after the Bank of Japan left its policies unchanged overnight.
The Japanese yen strengthened 0.03% versus the
greenback at 103.52 per dollar.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose
almost 2 basis points to 1.1092%.
In commodity markets, oil prices eased on an unexpected rise
in U.S. crude stockpiles, though hopes for an economic revival
kept losses in check.
U.S. crude futures settled down 18 cents at $53.13 a
barrel, while Brent futures rose 2 cents to settle at
$56.10 a barrel.
Industrial metals such as copper, nickel and iron ore all
rose, while spot gold slid 0.1% to $1,864.66 per ounce.
U.S. gold futures settled little changed at $1,865.90
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(Reporting by Herbert Lash; additional reporting by Marc Jones
in London; Editing by Dan Grebler)