* Dow falls due to increased unemployment claims
* ECB pledges to keep rates at record low levels
* Oil extends gains on expectations of tighter supplies (Updates with open of U.S. markets)
By Jessica DiNapoli
NEW YORK, July 22 (Reuters) - U.S. markets were mixed on Thursday as a report showed jobless claims increased last week while the country still reckons with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and yields on safe-haven assets as U.S. Treasuries were little changed.
The Dow and S&P 500 fell in response to two-month highs in the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits. The dollar was also off recent highs in response to the news.
“The jobless claims data that came out this morning was soft and continues to be stubbornly elevated,” said Sean Bandazian, investment analyst for Cornerstone Wealth. “The market is probably digesting some volatility from the last several days. We had a pretty sizable draw down and then recovery making back 75% of what we lost Friday and Monday.”
There were increases in filings for unemployment benefits in California, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri and Texas. Some of these states have experienced a surge in new coronavirus cases as the more contagious Delta variant spreads.
Still, the weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department showed more people are returning to work, a trend that bodes well for July's employment report.
In Europe stocks rose to near lifetime highs on Thursday after the European Central Bank pledged to keep interest rates at record lows for even longer to help the euro zone's struggling economy recover from COVID-19.
The STOXX index of 600 leading European shares gained 1% to 458.52 points, within striking distance of its lifetime high of 461.38 points reached last week.
At late morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 57.14 points, or 0.16%, to 34,740.86, the S&P 500 lost 2.84 points, or 0.07%, to 4,355.85 and the Nasdaq Composite added 17.39 points, or 0.12%, to 14,649.34.
The dollar index rose 0.099%.
U.S. Treasuries were largely flat. The yield on 10-year Treasury notes fell two basis points to 1.262%.
Earlier this week, a revived appetite for riskier assets came as worries eased that the Delta variant of COVID-19 would seriously crimp economic recovery, helping to lift crude oil prices.
"The markets are caught in a bit of pincer movement between concerns about higher inflation and lower growth and that will continue," said Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets.
Oil rose, extending strong gains made in the previous sessions on expectations of tighter supplies until the end of the year as economies recover from the pandemic.
U.S. crude recently rose 0.83% to $70.88 per barrel and Brent was at $72.83, up 0.83% on the day.
The MSCI All Country equity index was up 0.25%.
Gold added 0.1% to $1,805.81 an ounce.
Cryptocurrencies were firm after bouncing from lows when Tesla boss Elon Musk said the carmaker would likely restart accepting bitcoin payments after due diligence on its energy use.
Bitcoin was up 0.5% at $32,354.
In Asia, the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 1.2% higher.
(Additional reporting by Sujata Rao-Coverley and Tom Westbrook; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Steve Orlofsky)