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Global stock markets near record high

Wednesday, July 02 16:06:19

Major stock markets held near record highs today on signs of an improving global economy and continued central bank support, while the dollar and bond yields rose on an upbeat report on U.S. employment.

The Dow Jones Industrial average and the S and P 500 index closed at record highs on Tuesday, and the Dow flirted with the 17,000 milestone for a second day.

Evidence of faster economic growth also supported gold prices, though they were below a three-month peak set on Tuesday.

Oil prices in London fell to their lowest in nearly three weeks on a possible substantial recovery in Libyan exports after rebels said they would reopen two oil terminals.

"Equity investors are anticipating growth," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago. "The economic background is improving. That's why you are seeing bonds sell off."

The latest evidence the U.S. economy has recovered from its first-quarter contraction was 281,000 new jobs in the U.S. private sector last month, according to payroll processor ADP. That was the strongest monthly gain in 1-1/2 years.

While the world's biggest economy has regained steady footing, the U.S. Federal Reserve has shown no hints it will raise interest rates from near zero until the second half of 2015 at the earliest.

Investors will look for clues from Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who was to speak on financial stability later on Wednesday.

They also awaited a meeting of the European Central Bank on Thursday to provide more guidance after data showed euro-zone industrial prices fell for a fifth consecutive month in May.

In early U.S. trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 11.21 points, or 0.07 percent, at 16,967.28. The Standard and Poor's 500 Index was up 1.94 points, or 0.10 percent, at 1,975.26. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 5.67 points, or 0.13 percent, at 4,464.32

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 equity index was up 0.3 percent at 1,385.93. Tokyo's Nikkei closed up 0.3 percent.