* Optimism on earnings, global growth boost shares
* European stocks at two-year high
* Fed meeting, decision on next Fed chief in spotlight
* Oil prices hit highest level since mid-2015 (Updates with European market close)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Nov 1 (Reuters) - World stock markets climbed to a fresh high on Wednesday, boosted by solid corporate earnings and a climb in energy-related stocks as oil prices hit their highest in more than two years.
MSCI’s gauge of stock markets around the globe advanced, fresh on the heels of a record 12th straight month of gains, although gains were capped as investors exercised caution ahead of a policy announcement from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
“It is probably just waiting for policy, waiting for the Fed, waiting for the Fed chair, it is just waiting for some catalysts,” said Tom Hainlin, global investment strategist at Ascent Private Capital Management in Minneapolis.
“The base is solid, the economic base is solid, the earnings base has been good, growth is good.”
The central bank is expected to keep interest rates unchanged amid speculation over who will be its next leader, but will likely point to a firming economy as it edges closer to a possible rate rise next month.
Data on Wednesday showed the U.S. economy remained on solid footing ahead of Friday’s payrolls report. Although a measure of factory activity lost ground as hurricane-related supply disruptions faded, another report showed private sector hiring surged.
Shares of Japanese multinational Sony soared as much as 12.3 percent to a nine-year high after the electronics and entertainment firm forecast its best ever annual profit. U.S. listed shares of the stock were up 0.6 percent at $43.67.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 25.93 points, or 0.11 percent, to 23,403.17, the S&P 500 gained 1.49 points, or 0.06 percent, to 2,576.75 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 25.30 points, or 0.38 percent, to 6,702.37.
After the closing bell in the U.S., earnings are expected from Facebook, which was up 0.41 percent as the biggest boost to the S&P 500. On Thursday, earnings are expected from iPhone maker Apple Inc.
Of 326 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported results, 73 percent topped analyst expectations, compared with 72 percent over the past four quarters, according to Thomson Reuters data. The earnings growth estimate for the quarter is currently at 7 percent.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.50 percent after touching its highest level since August 2015 and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.29 percent.
A rise in oil prices to their highest level since mid-2015 also served to boost energy names. Oil prices turned flat, however, after U.S. government data showed that the latest weekly draw in domestic crude stocks was not as big as an industry trade group had reported.
U.S. crude rose 0.02 percent to $54.39 per barrel and Brent was last at $60.73, down 0.34 percent on the day.
The S&P energy index gained 0.8 percent, on track for their best day since late September, while in Europe basic resources stocks jumped 2.7 percent.
The White House has said U.S. President Donald Trump will announce his Fed pick on Thursday. Market participants widely expect it to be Fed Governor Jerome Powell, who is considered more dovish on interest rates than some other candidates and thus relatively stock-market friendly.
The dollar index rose 0.2 percent, with the euro down 0.18 percent to $1.1623.
Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 5/32 in price to yield 2.3577 percent, from 2.376 percent late on Tuesday.
Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Chizu Nomiyama