- S&P stock futures hit record highs.
- European shares at record levels.
- Crude oil slips after rise in US gasoline stocks.
- Fed's Powell to speak at IMF event at 1600 GMT.
- Weekly US jobless claims data due at 1230 GMT.
- ECB reassures on accommodative monetary policy.
LONDON: Wall Street was poised to notch a record high on Thursday after reassurance from the Federal Reserve that its bond-buying support for economic recovery won't be ending anytime soon.
E-mini futures on the S&P 500 were up 0.33% at 4,083 points, just off a record high of 4,092.75 earlier. Nasdaq futures gained 0.86%
Minutes of the Fed's last policy meeting, published on Wednesday, showed members felt the economy was still short of target and were in no rush to scale back their $120 billion a month of bond buying.
"As long as that message remains consistent and, more importantly, unified, that is going to have a bigger and bigger influence on yields," said Derek Halpenny, head of research for global markets at MUFG.
"That is what is key in the market at the moment, as rates appear to have reached some degree of equilibrium, and that is what is encouraging the equities market performance. I can't really see anything on the immediate horizon to upset that."
US Treasuries yields were down from their 14-month highs, although analysts said markets will be tested next week when the US earnings seasons gets underway.
The US weekly jobless claims data is due at 1230 GMT, and is expected to show the number of Americans filing for new unemployment benefits dropped in the latest week, a further sign the economy is recovering from COVID-19.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell speaks at 1600 GMT at an International Monetary Fund event and he is likely to reiterate the dovish outlook.
There was little in the way of corporate news, though shares in Tesla Inc rose about 1% after President Joe Biden's administration proposed a $174 billion boost to electric vehicles.
ECB DOVISH TOO
Stocks in Europe also reached record highs, buoyed by optimism in Britain over easing lockdown restrictions and supportive outlooks from the Fed and the European Central Bank.
The European STOXX index of 600 leading companies rose 0.44%, just off the high of 436.66 points it reached earlier in the session. London's blue-chip FTSE 100 index was up 0.4%.
"It's looking good as evaluations in Europe are much lower than they are in the US, so there is potentially more upside. The line of least resistance for European markets is higher," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.
"In terms of economic re-opening, there is enough optimism built in at the moment to drive markets quite a bit higher from here, and the Fed has reiterated it's going to remain on hold for a while," Hewson said.
The ECB said in the account of its March 11 meeting, published on Thursday, that it was important to provide reassurance there would be no change in its accommodative monetary policy for as long as necessary.
In Asia, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan inched up 0.3% in quiet trade. Japan's Nikkei slipped 0.3%, not helped by news Tokyo's governor had asked for emergency measures to stem a surge of COVID-19 infections.
In currencies, the dollar index eased to 92.291 from its recent five-month high at 93.439.
The euro was steady at $1.1877, after rising as high as $1.1914 overnight following a surprisingly upbeat survey of European Union business activity.
In commodity markets, gold was at $1,750 an ounce.
Oil prices fell after official figures showed a big increase in US gasoline stockpiles, causing concern about demand for crude weakening in the world's biggest consumer of the resource at a time when supplies around the world are rising.
Brent fell 29 cents to $62.87 a barrel. US crude lost 44 cents to $59.33 per barrel.