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World stocks rise after Wall Street soars

SHARE World stocks rise after Wall Street soars

BANGKOK — World stock markets rose Wednesday, with Japan's benchmark closing at its highest level in more than seven months, as investors snapped up shares amid signs of a strengthening U.S. economy.

Benchmark oil hovered below $107 per barrel while the dollar rose against the euro and the yen.

Gains in European and Asian markets came after a strong rally Tuesday on Wall Street sparked by optimism over the economic outlook. U.S. government figures showed improving retail sales and the U.S. Federal Reserve said it expects the unemployment rate to keep falling.

"Exports stocks, especially focusing on the U.S. market, will definitely benefit," said Dickie Wong, executive director of Kingston Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong.

Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent to 5,974.56. Germany's DAX was 0.8 percent higher at 7,054.96 and France's CAC-40 added 0.6 percent to 3,571.32.

Wall Street was headed for a flat day, with Dow Jones industrial futures slightly higher at 13,113 but S&P 500 futures falling marginally to 1,390.30.

In Asia, stocks outside of China were mostly higher. Japan's Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.5 percent to 10,050.52 as the yen continued its retreat from record highs against the U.S. dollar. The last time the Nikkei closed above 10,000 was July 27.

South Korea's Kospi index climbed 1 percent to 2,045.08. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.9 percent to 4,287.20. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, India and Thailand also rose.

But Hong Kong and mainland Chinese shares lost ground, with property developers among the biggest decliners, after Premier Wen Jiabao said government curbs that have started to cool surging housing prices will remain in place.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slipped 0.2 percent to 21,307.89. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 2.6 percent to 2,391.23. The Shenzhen Composite Index plunged 4.1 percent to 969.12.

"The losses are mainly due to decisions by authorities not meeting the earlier expectations of investors," said Xu Xiaoyu, an analyst at China Investment Securities, based in Beijing.

Japanese exporters surged as the dollar hovered above 83 yen — its strongest level against the Japanese currency since April last year. Sony Corp. vaulted 5.2 percent and Nissan Motor Corp. climbed 3.8 percent. Higher prices for industrial metals like silver and copper helped mining stocks. In Australia, BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, rose 1.5 percent. Energy Resources of Australia added 3.8 percent.

But Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong's biggest airline, lost 2.8 percent after reporting that profit fell 61 percent last year, hurt by persistently high jet fuel prices and weakness in the world's major economies.

Benchmark oil for April delivery was down 28 cents to $106.43 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 37 cents to finish at $106.71 per barrel.

In currency trading, the euro was lower at $1.3057 from $1.3073 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar rose to 83.41 yen from 83.08 yen.

AP researcher Fu Ting contributed from Shanghai.