By Riva Gold

Global stocks were off to a quiet start on Wednesday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 19000 for the first time in history.

The Stoxx Europe 600 inched up 0.1% in morning trading, while futures markets suggested small gains for major U.S. indexes ahead of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

The Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq and Russell 2000 all closed at record highs on Tuesday for a second day in a row, spurred by a recent uptick in corporate earnings, a jump in oil prices and hopes that the election of Donald Trump would lead to higher growth and inflation.

"This is relief," said Shannon Saccocia, head of asset allocation at Boston Private Wealth. "We have positive earnings posted, an energy market whichhas stabilized, and we'll have fiscal spending that will benefit parts of the market that have lagged," she said.

The S&P 500 financials sector has risen over 13% in the last month, while the industrial sector has added over 8%.

In Europe on Wednesday, continued gains in commodity-sensitive companies such as miners and oil giants were mostly offset by declines in banking and insurance companies.

Italian banks were among the worst performers ahead of a coming referendum on constitutional reform, with shares of UniCredit down over 3% and Banco Popolare di Milano off 5%.

For European equities to pick up, "you need foreign investors coming back to Europe and more clarity on political issues, which can't happen before Dec. 4," said Christophe Foliot, head of U.S. and international equities at Edmond de Rothschild Asset Management.

Earlier, stocks in Australia and South Korea followed Wall Street higher, while bourses inHong Kong and Shanghai struggled for traction. Markets in Japan were closed for a holiday.

In currencies, the WSJ Dollar Index inched up 0.1% after rising for 11 of the last 12 sessions, and was last flat against the yen and up 0.2% against the euro.

The British pound was off 0.4% against the dollar at $1.2368 ahead of the U.K.'s Autumn Statement, where investors are hoping for more clarity on the government's tax and spending plans following the June referendum on European Union membership.

Investors also continued to keep an eye on the oil price ahead of a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries next week. Brent crude oil was last up 0.1% at $49.18 a barrel.

Later Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release minutes from its November meeting. Given the shift in financial markets since then, "I can't imagine what they would've said in that pre-election meeting that would be at all relevant at thispoint," Ms. Saccocia said.

"Comments out of the December meeting will be more interesting," she added.

Write to Riva Gold at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 23, 2016 05:19 ET (10:19 GMT)

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