GLOBAL MARKETS-Fed Caution Drives Wall Street to Record Highs

By Huw Jones

LONDON, Apr 8 (Reuters) – Wall Street hit new record highs at its opening on Thursday, following assurances offered by the Federal Reserve that its purchase of bonds to support the economic recovery will not end anytime soon.

* At the open, the S&P 500 Index hit a new all-time high, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite also rose.

* Minutes from the Fed’s latest policy meeting, released on Wednesday, showed its members believe the economy has not yet reached its targets and are in no rush to cut their monthly $ 120 billion bond buying program.

* “As long as that message remains consistent and, more importantly, unified, it is going to have a growing influence on returns,” said Derek Halpenny of MUFG.

* “That is why it is key at this moment in the market, when rates seem to have reached some degree of equilibrium, and that is what is encouraging about the performance of the equity market. I do not see anything on the immediate horizon that frustrates this,” he added.

* US Treasury yields fell from 14-month highs, although analysts said the markets will be put to the test next week when the corporate earnings season begins.

* Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will speak at 1600 GMT at an International Monetary Fund virtual event and is likely to reiterate the cautious outlook.

* European stocks were also hitting all-time records, fueled by British optimism at easing restrictions and encouraging outlooks presented by the Fed and the European Central Bank.

* The pan-European STOXX 600 Index was up 0.44%, close to the high of 436.66 points that it touched earlier in the session. The FTSE 100 of outstanding UK stocks improved 0.4%.

* In Asia, MSCI’s broader index of Asia Pacific equities excluding Japan advanced 0.3% on a quiet day. The Nikkei fell 0.3%, pressured by news that the Tokyo governor called for emergency measures to curb the resurgence of COVID-19 infections.

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* In the foreign exchange market, the dollar index fell to 92,291 units from its recent five-month high of 93,439. The euro was stable at $ 1.1877, after rising to $ 1.1914 after an unexpectedly upbeat survey of business activity in the European Union.

* In the commodity markets, gold traded at $ 1,750 an ounce, while crude prices fell after official figures showed a large increase in gasoline stocks in the United States.

(Additional reporting by Wayne Cole and Chibuike Oguh; edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)