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Earnings optimism helps boost stocks, dollar gains as ECB eyed

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By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of global stocks rose for a fourth straight day on Wednesday, buoyed by optimism over the early stages of the U.S. corporate earnings season, while the dollar edged up ahead of a rate decision by the European Central Bank on Thursday.

Wall Street stocks were higher, led by gains on the Nasdaq Composite Index as growth stocks were buoyed by a positive outlook from Netflix Inc , which jumped 7.36%.

With 60 companies in the S&P 500 having reported earnings, 78.3% have topped analysts' expectations, according to Refinitiv data, tracking slightly below the 81% beat rate for the past four quarters but well above the 66% rate since 1994.

"It seems like we have gotten some positive surprises, even if those positive surprises were just really that companies didn't do as badly as what was probably originally feared," said Brian Jacobsen, senior investment strategist at Allspring Global Investments in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 47.79 points, or 0.15%, to 31,874.84 the S&P 500 gained 23.21 points, or 0.59%, at 3,959.9 and the Nasdaq Composite added 184.50 points, or 1.58%, at 11,897.65.

The U.S. dollar rose after three straight days of declines that left the greenback at two-week lows as expectations for upcoming rate hikes from the ECB and U.S Federal Reserve have shifted.

The market anticipates a larger 50 basis points hike from the ECB and the Fed hiking by 75 basis points as they attempt to combat inflation. As recently as last week, it was widely expected the ECB would hike by 25 basis points while the Fed would likely raise rates by 100 basis points.

"Inflation is going to be that worry that lingers for a while," Jacobsen said. "Part of it is because while the central bankers are working on it, the effect of monetary tightening isn't likely to be felt in the inflation numbers for quite a while. The near-term inflation relief needs to come from the supply side."

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.21% and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.54%.

Four straight days of gains lifted MSCI's index to a three-week high of 617.30, the longest streak of gains for the index in five weeks. European shares snapped a three-session win streak.

European shares ended lower as uncertainty swirled around gas supplies to the region and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi's future. Draghi won a confidence motion after the close of trading in the upper house Senate but three main coalition parties refused to take part in the vote, effectively derailing his administration.

The European Union told member states on Wednesday to cut gas usage by 15% until March as an emergency step after President Vladimir Putin warned that Russian supplies sent via the biggest pipeline to Europe could be reduced further and might even stop.

The dollar index rose 0.356%, with the euro was down 0.45% to $1.0178.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.03% versus the greenback at 138.24 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.1973, down 0.18% on the day.

In addition to the ECB, the Bank of Japan will also announce a policy decision on Thursday, but is not expected to make any changes to its ultra-loose monetary stance.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 4/32 in price to yield 3.0321%, from 3.019% late on Tuesday.

Following a volatile session on Tuesday, oil prices were lower after U.S. government data showed lower gasoline demand during the peak summer driving season and as interest rate hikes by central banks to fight inflation increased concerns the economy could slow and reduce energy demand.

U.S. crude settled down1.88% at $102.26 per barrel and Brent settled at $106.92, down 0.4% on the day.

(Additional reporting by Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Aniruddha Ghosh in Bengaluru; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Richard Chang)

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