By Lewis Krauskopf
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The euro strengthened to its highest level in nearly two years against the U.S. dollar on Thursday after Europe's central bank chief said officials would discuss possible changes to its bond-buying scheme this autumn, while a gauge of stocks globally gained for a 10th straight session.
Though European Central Bank President Mario Draghi set no date for changes to the bond-buying plan and said that officials were unanimous in their decision not to change their guidance on monetary policy, investors suspected the talks would lead to tightening next year.
The euro <EUR=> was up 0.96 percent to $1.1625, and poised for its biggest single-day percentage gain in more than three weeks.
"The marketplace is looking for a good potential for (ECB quantitative easing) reduction to start in September or at least to be announced in September," said Richard Scalone, co-head of foreign exchange at TJM Brokerage in Chicago.
In equities, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index <.FTEU3> lost 0.31 percent, while Wall Street's main stock indexes ended little changed but were around record high levels.
Still, MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe <.MIWD00000PUS> gained 0.18 percent, putting it on track for its longest streak of gains since February 2015, as a cautious-sounding Bank of Japan sent Asian markets to their highest in almost a decade overnight.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 28.97 points, or 0.13 percent, to 21,611.78, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 0.38 points, or 0.02 percent, to 2,473.45 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 4.96 points, or 0.08 percent, to 6,390.00.
As second-quarter reporting season heats up, Qualcomm <QCOM.O> shares fell 4.9 percent after the chipmaker's forecast missed estimates.
With about 15 percent of S&P 500 companies having posted results so far, quarterly earnings are expected to have climbed 8.6 percent, above the 8-percent rise projected at the start of the month, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Results "more or less have been pretty good," said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia, but he added: "In a lot of cases, either earnings or revenues or guidance wasn’t quite up to what some people's optimistic assumptions were, so you’re seeing the market kind of grind higher."
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, touching its lowest level in nearly five months, suggesting strong job gains that should continue to underpin economic growth.
While suffering against the euro, the dollar also weakened overall against a basket of major currencies. The dollar index <.DXY> fell 0.5 percent, touching an 11-month low.
U.S. government debt yields were little changed as buying tied to the ECB's pledge of easy money stemming from inflation concerns faded after a poor auction of 10-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities.
Benchmark 10-year notes <US10YT=RR> last rose 1/32 in price to yield 2.2642 percent, from 2.268 percent late on Wednesday.
"Inflation is the main concern right now. Until something changes, it will rule the world," said Thomas Roth, head of U.S. Treasury trading at MUFG Securities America in New York.
Oil prices dipped in choppy U.S. trading as nagging worries about abundant global crude supplies dragged prices lower. An early rally had pushed Brent above $50 per barrel for the first time since early June.
U.S. crude <CLcv1> fell 0.7 percent to $46.79 per barrel and Brent <LCOcv1> was last at $49.29, down 0.82 percent on the day.
Spot gold <XAU=> added 0.3 percent to $1,243.51 an ounce.
(Additional reporting by Sam Forgione and Richard Leong in New York, Marc Jones, Patrick Graham and John Geddie in London; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)