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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks across the globe rose to their highest levels since late December on Thursday and the U.S. dollar gained for a third day running as investors embraced risk ahead of top policymaker and oil producer meetings.
Wall Street stock indexes were little changed a day after the S&P 500 closed at its highest since early December. European shares .FTEU3 added to substantial gains made on Wednesday and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS ended at its highest level of the year.
"The (U.S. stock) market has rebounded nicely, but it's running into resistance," said Alan Gayle, director of asset allocation at RidgeWorth Investments in Atlanta.
"The market wants to see a more positive outlook for earnings growth going forward."
First-quarter earnings among S&P 500 companies are forecast to have fallen by 7.8 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, but the diminished expectations could be setting the stage for positive surprises that support stocks.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 18.15 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,926.43, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.36 points, or 0.02 percent, to 2,082.78 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 1.53 points, or 0.03 percent, to 4,945.89.
Oil prices were choppy and ended lower after a mixed report from the International Energy Agency and skepticism that an upcoming meeting of major producers would do much to tighten the balance of supply and demand.
Brent crude futures LCOc1 fell 0.7 percent to $43.86 per barrel and U.S. crude CLc1 fell 0.7 percent to $41.45.
"I think the market is really looking ahead to (the OPEC meeting in) Doha," said Michael Tran, director of energy strategy at RBC Capital Markets in New York.
"An agreement to freeze production does little to change physical balances. But constructive rhetoric could serve as a sentiment changer at a minimum, helping to legitimize the current rally and have the market hold the $40 a barrel level as the new psychological floor."
The U.S. dollar, in which most commodities are priced, added to its recent comeback having just chalked up its biggest one-day gain in seven weeks.
The U.S. currency was at $1.1260 per euro EUR=, little changed on the day but way above a six-month low of $1.1464 touched on Tuesday, and also little changed versus the yen at 109.38 JPY=. The dollar index .DXY rose 0.2 percent.
Singapore's normally conservative central bank unexpectedly eased its exchange-rate based monetary policy, at a time when several hundred economists polled by Reuters said economic growth and inflation across the globe will lose further momentum this year despite years of ultra-easy monetary policy.
Many of the economists surveyed said it is now time for governments to increase spending.
Singapore's move to battle deflation came as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund prepare to meet this week in Washington, with the fund pledging resources for vulnerable economies in a slowdown.
Against the Singapore dollar SGD= the greenback strengthened nearly 1.0 percent.
The U.S. 10-year note US10YT=RR was down 9/32 in price, its yield up to 1.7919 percent from 1.762 percent.
Additional reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar and Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Fiona Ortiz