World stocks reached their highest levels in nearly 2-1/2 years on Wednesday with the MSCI world equity index reaching 1324, the highest since August 2008.

Strong fourth quarter corporate earnings are boosting optimism that the world economic recovery is strengthening. Chinese shares led the emerging markets higher on speculation that a government report due tomorrow will show inflation cooled last month, while commodities rallied to a two-year high.

As many as 61 percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings have beaten expectations. Earnings growth among S&P 500 companies is expected at 32.2 percent in the fourth quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Results from the world’s largest computer-services provider International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and the maker of the iPhone and iPad Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) have beaten analysts’ estimates, adding to evidence of a rebound in corporate spending on technology.

Apple posted $6 billion in profit, or $6.43 per share with revenue hitting $26.74 billion, above the most optimistic Wall Street estimates of about $25 billion. For the same quarter last year, Apple posted $15.68 billion in revenue and net quarterly profit of $3.38 billion, or $3.67 per share.

IBM’s fourth quarter net income rose to $5.3 billion or $4.18 per share, up from $4.8 billion or $3.59 per share in the same quarter last year.

The dollar declined to eight-week low against major counter parts. The greenback fell 0.61 percent against euro and 0.37 percent against yen.

Crude futures rose 0.34 percent and gold futures advanced 0.17 percent on weak dollar. Copper futures advanced 0.28 percent and silver futures surged 1.05 percent.