World stock markets up as Dow logs strong January

World stock markets mostly up after Dow's strong January finish tempers US jobless claims

Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) -- World stock markets were mostly higher Friday, fueled by Wall Street's overall sterling performance for January as investors waited for U.S. employment figures expected to show steady job growth.

Economists forecast the economy added 155,000 jobs in January and that the unemployment rate stayed at 7.8 percent for a third straight month. That would help the economy grow after it shrank at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the final quarter of 2012.

Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent to 6,296.03 in early trading. Germany's DAX advanced 0.3 percent to 7,800.28. France's CAC-40 added 0.2 percent to 3,740.20. Wall Street futures were higher. Dow Jones industrial futures rose 0.4 percent to 13,849 while S&P 500 futures added 0.3 percent to 1,497.50.

Although the Dow Jones industrial average finished lower on Thursday, the index logged its best January since 1994 by finishing 5.8 percent higher for the month. The Standard & Poor's 500 finished the month 5 percent higher, its best start to the year since 1997.

"There is a general feeling in the US that markets are due for a breather, and after such a red-hot month any excuse to take profits looks likely," said Evan Lucas of IG Markets in Melbourne.

Asian stocks were mixed after manufacturing data from China fell short of expectations. Industrial production is still growing, but at a slower pace, according to the government-sanctioned China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing. Its manufacturing index for January fell to 50.4 from 50.6 in December on a 100-point scale in which numbers above 50 indicate expansion.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell marginally to 23,721.84. South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.2 percent to 1,957.79. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.9 percent to 4,921.10. The ASX closed at 4,879 on Thursday, capping its best January since 1995, Lucas said.

Japan's Nikkei 225, meanwhile, was once again energized by the yen's continued descent against the dollar. The index rose 0.5 percent to 11,191.34.

Among individual stocks, South Korea's Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction plummeted 8.1 percent on rumor it will issue new shares, Yonhap News Agency reported. Japanese phone company Softbank, which said Thursday its net profit more than doubled in the October-December quarter from a year earlier, jumped 5.7 percent.

Benchmark oil for March delivery was down 13 cents to $97.39 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 45 cents to close at $97.49 a barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.

In currencies, euro rose to $1.3640 from $1.3574 late Thursday in New York. The dollar rose to 92.15 yen from 91.38 yen.

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