World stocks gain ahead of new Fed chief comments

World stock markets mostly higher as investors look to Yellen's debut comments as Fed chief

Associated Press
Asia stocks higher ahead of Yellen testimony
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Men walk past an electronic stock indicator showing charts of Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 which gained 255.93 points, or 1.77 percent, and closed at 14,718.34 in Tokyo Monday, Feb. 10, 2014. Asian stock markets were mostly higher Monday as investors looked ahead to Janet Yellen's first comments before Congress as the new Federal Reserve chairwoman. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

BEIJING (AP) -- Global stocks were mostly higher Monday as investors looked ahead to Janet Yellen's first comments before Congress as the new Federal Reserve chairwoman.

Oil edged down but stayed close to $100 on optimism the American economy might be improving despite mixed U.S. jobs data on Friday.

China's Shanghai Composite Index added 2 percent to 2,086.18, its highest close in a month. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 1.8 percent at 14,718.34. Seoul, Taipei and Sydney also gained.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng gave up 0.4 percent to 21,561.31. Singapore, Bangkok and Jakarta also declined.

In Europe, France's CAC 40 added 0.3 percent to 4,241.85 and Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent to 9,322.13. Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.1 percent to 6,576.37.

Futures, however, augured a sluggish start for Wall Street. S&P 500 futures shed 0.3 percent and Dow futures were off 0.2 percent.

The U.S. economy added 113,000 jobs in January, far below the 170,000 analysts had been expecting. But unemployment dipped to 6.6 percent, the lowest rate since the global financial crisis hit in late 2008, and more people sought jobs.

"The detailed data suggests the U.S. is indeed moving towards a stronger economy," said strategist Evan Lucas at IG Markets in a report.

In China, gains were led by automakers, engineering, nonferrous metals and alternative energy-related companies.

BYD Co., an automaker in which Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owns a stake, rose by the daily limit of 10 percent after the government announced it will extend subsidies for electric cars beyond the program's planned 2015 end. Great Wall Motor Company Ltd., China's largest domestic SUV and pickup producer, gained 4.5 percent.

Investors were looking ahead to Yellen's appearance Tuesday before Congress for signs of whether the Fed might alter its plans to wind down its stimulus.

Rising stock markets suggested some traders think the Fed might postpone another reduction in its monthly bond-buying. But analysts warn that is far from certain.

The Fed had been buying $85 billion worth of bonds every month in an effort to stimulate the economy by pushing down commercial lending rates. The Fed said in December it will reduce that by $10 billion each month. That would reduce February's purchases to $65 billion if the Fed sticks to its plan.

"We think that the data is not weak enough for the Fed to pause on tapering, but also not strong enough to shift the base case of a modest recovery to a faster paced one," said Mizuho Bank in a report.

Benchmark U.S. oil for March delivery was down 33 cents at $99.55 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $2.04 on Friday to close at $99.88 after briefly peaking above $100 in mid-afternoon.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3645 from $1.3610 late Friday. The dollar fell to 102.19 yen from 102.49 yen.

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