GLOBAL MARKETS-Euro up as rate hike eyed; oil at fresh peak

* Euro gains on expectations of rise in interest rates

* Stocks buoyant, Wall Street starts higher

* Commodities power higher; gold hits record high
(Updates prices, rewrites)

By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK, April 6 (Reuters) – The euro rallied on Wednesday
ahead of an expected interest rate hike in the euro zone, while
the weaker dollar and geopolitical unrest sent oil and gold
prices to fresh peaks.

The euro surged more than 1 percent against the Japanese
yen (EURJPY=: Quote, Profile, Research), hitting an 11-month high, one day before the
European Central Bank is widely expected to raise its benchmark
interest rate by 25 basis points to curb inflation pressures.

The ECB has held rates at a record low 1.0 percent since
July 2008. The Bank of Japan, on the other hand, is expected to
keep interest rates low at its policy meeting on Thursday
following last month’s massive earthquake and tsunami.
(ECBWATCH: Quote, Profile, Research)

Among commodities, spot gold (XAU=: Quote, Profile, Research) rose to a record high,
silver (XAG=: Quote, Profile, Research) touched a 31-year high, and Brent crude (LCOc1: Quote, Profile, Research)
rose $1 to break through $123 a barrel, its highest level since
August 2008. U.S. crude (CLc1: Quote, Profile, Research) rose above $109 to its highest
since September 2008.

A weaker greenback makes dollar-priced assets more
affordable to holders of the euro and other currencies.

Global equities gained on a generally brighter economic
picture with U.S. stocks up in midmorning as investors bet the
upcoming earnings season and more merger activity will continue
to lift the market. Mining shares rose with gold prices.

World stocks as measured by MSCI (.MIWD00000OOPUS: Quote, Profile, Research) were up
0.5 percent percent, while the S&P 500 (.SPX: Quote, Profile, Research) was up 0.3
percent. Emerging markets (.MSCIEF: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 0.9 percent, helped by
renewed interest due to higher expectations for interest rates
in developed markets. For details, see [ID:nLDE7301MN]

GLOBAL MARKETS-Euro up as rate hike eyed; oil at fresh peak