Global stocks hit record highs on economy hopes

World stocks rose to record highs on Wednesday (December 16), as investors cheered the prospect of coronavirus vaccines and more U.S. fiscal stimulus.

European stocks and the euro also got a boost after economic data came in better than expected.

Manufacturers reported strong growth - fuelled by rising exports and a booming performance from Germany.

The latest composite Purchasing Mangers' Index for the euro zone - seen as a good guide to economic health - soared to 49.8 in December, from 45.3 last month.

That's just short of the 50 mark that indicates growth, and well above economist forecasts.

The numbers suggest that a second wave of infections and new lockdowns had less of an impact than earlier this year.

All the upbeat data - plus rising hopes of a Brexit trade deal - sent European shares to their highest since February.

The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.9% in early deals.

Germany's DAX stock index shot up 1.6%, and was set for its best session in three months.

Sentiment was helped after U.S. congressional leaders reported progress in talks on another round of fiscal stimulus.

The MSCI world stock index rose 0.4% to a record high.

Since early November the index has climbed 15%, driven by trillions of dollars worth of global stimulus and a more positive outlook.

Investors now turn their attention to the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day meeting.

Details from that could show whether policymakers think the U.S. is on course for a double-dip recession, or on the brink of a vaccine-inspired boom.