World stock markets raced ahead with their post-credit shock rally on Thursday and Wall Street looked set to join them, while gold and platinum hit highs on the back of the weaker dollar.

The Japanese yen fell after the Bank of Japan kept interest rates steady.

MSCI's main world index and its emerging market counterpart were at record highs and the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.7 percent.

The focus among developed market stock investors is turning from credit and interest rates towards third-quarter corporate earnings. Accordingly, a midday boost was triggered when Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, raised its profits outlook.

Some investors believe that Q3 earnings are crucial to the sustainability of the rally that has lifted world equities to a series of all-time highs despite ongoing concerns about credit.

We have had pretty low expectations for earnings growth over the past two quarters and the result has been a big beat, Richard Batty, strategist at Standard Life Investments, told Reuters in an interview.

Coming into this quarter the initial expectations are around 3-4 percent. Will that 3-4 be beaten again? That's the critical issue.

There were also some signs that credit is improving, with three-month euro Libor interbank interest rates falling for the seventh day in a row to the lowest since September 20.

Earlier, Japan's Nikkei rose 1.6 percent to end at its highest in nearly two and a half months, boosted by a sovereign debt upgrade from rating agency Moody's and unfazed by the Bank of Japan's hold on interest rates.

The benchmark added 281.09 points to 17,458.98, the highest finish since July 26. The broader TOPIX index climbed 1.2 percent or 19.34 points to 1,677.52, its highest close since August 9.


The generally sickly dollar and firming oil prices swept gold to 28-year highs, while platinum was set at a record high of $1,396 per ounce aided by rising bullion prices and worries over supply.

Dealers and analysts said that fund buyers had the bit between their teeth with further gains seen eventually targeting a record peak above $800.

Gold is getting closer to the more pivotal point at $750 per ounce, which it is likely to test in the short term if the stimulating impetus coming from the dollar and strong oil prices persists, said Alexander Zumpfe, trader at Heraeus Precious Metals.

Spot gold had hit $747.75 per troy ounce -- its highest since January 1980 -- before pulling back marginally to trade at $747.10, up from $738.80 late in New York on Wednesday.


The euro rallied for a third day in a row against the dollar as expectations for the Federal Reserve to keep rates on hold faded, while the yen felt the brunt of a continuing increase in risk appetite.

In a session dominated by rate differentials, the euro was also on track for its largest one-day rise against the yen in nearly three weeks after the Bank of Japan left its benchmark overnight call rate unchanged at 0.5 percent.

The euro was up 0.4 percent against dollar $1.4192, while against the yen, the euro rose 0.8 percent at 166.95 yen.

The euro has risen by about 1 percent against the dollar in the past three trading sessions.

Euro zone government bond prices were lower with markets waiting for clues on interest rates.

The interest rate-sensitive two-year Schatz yield was up 1.7 basis points at 4.086 percent while the 10-year Bund yield was up 4 basis points at 4.378 percent.