January 4, 2018 / 9:50 PM / 5 months ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Wall Street, European shares close up; euro near three-year high

* Euro near three-year high

* Oil hits highest since mid 2015 (Updates to U.S. trading close; adds commentary)

By Stephanie Kelly

NEW YORK, Jan 4 (Reuters) - A handful of stock indexes around the world hit fresh record highs on Thursday, bolstered by upbeat data from the world's largest economies, while the euro kept near a three-year high and the U.S. dollar fell versus major currencies.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe broke a record high and was last up 0.79 percent.

The ADP National Employment Report on Thursday showed U.S. private employers added 250,000 jobs in December, the biggest monthly increase since March.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 152.45 points, or 0.61 percent, to close at 25,075.13, sailing past the 25,000-mark for the first time on Thursday.

The S&P 500 gained 10.93 points, or 0.40 percent, to 2,723.99 and the Nasdaq Composite added 12.38 points, or 0.18 percent, to 7,077.92, with both indexes notching record closing highs.

Separately, China's services sector activity hit its highest in more than three years and manufacturing data from Japan came in strong. Services PMI data also showed the euro area was close to its strongest growth in seven years, confirming a strengthening economy was boosting corporate activity.

The euro zone's STOXX 50 had its best day since April 2017, closing up 1.68 percent. London's FTSE set a record high on Thursday, up 0.32 percent, while Tokyo's Nikkei, Asia's biggest market, had earlier shot to its highest since 1992 and was up 3.26 percent.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed up 0.52 percent, scaling a decade-high peak as a fifth day of gains in China helped emerging market stocks to a six-and-a-half-year high.

Those gains come after Wednesday's release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve's mid-December meeting that did little to change a view that it will stick to measured increases in U.S. interest rates.

The minutes showed policymakers expect U.S. President Donald Trump's tax overhaul will boost consumer spending but are still uncertain about the wider impact the stimulus would have on factors such as inflation.

EURO RALLIES

The euro resumed a rally that has taken it to near its highest in three years, while the U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, failed to hold gains from the previous session after upbeat U.S. data and the Fed minutes.

The euro rose 0.47 percent to $1.2069, while the dollar index was down 0.33 percent.

On Friday, investors will be focused on the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report, which is expected to show job gains of 190,000 for December.

James Chen, head of FX research at Forex.com in Bedminster, New Jersey, said his firm's U.S. payrolls growth forecast is between 200,000 and 220,000 given the strong employment data in other economic indicators.

"Any result falling within or above this range is likely to give the U.S. dollar a boost, as it would help confirm the Fed's optimistic outlook for the economy and the path to higher interest rates in 2018," Chen said.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.21 percent versus the greenback to 112.74 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.3551, up 0.27 percent.

Benchmark 10-year notes was last down 2/32 in price to yield 2.4525 percent, from 2.445 percent late on Wednesday. The 30-year bond was last down 1/32 to yield 2.7847 percent, from 2.783 percent.

U.S. Treasury two-year yields earlier hit a more than nine-year peak, boosted by the stronger-than-forecast ADP report on private hiring.

Yields were tempered by concerns that wage growth may fall short of expectations.

Oil rose above $68 a barrel to its highest since May 2015 on Thursday after unrest in Iran sparked concerns about supply risks and with support coming from another fall in U.S. inventories as refining hit a 12-year high.

U.S. crude rose 0.44 percent to $61.90 per barrel and Brent was last at $67.97, up 0.19 percent.

Additional reporting by Helen Reid, Alex Lawler and Jemima Kelly in London, and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, David Gaffen and Kate Duguid in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski and James Dalgleish

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