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World stocks buoyed by hopes of good US jobs data

Eileen Ng, Associated Press

People walk by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. Asian stock markets were mostly higher Friday, mirroring gains on Wall Street in anticipation of a positive U.S. jobs report for January. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index surged 1.6 percent to 14,382.77. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Global stock markets were higher Friday in anticipation of a positive U.S. jobs report for January.

In Europe, Germany's DAX stock rose 0.1 percent at 9,367.89 while the CAC 40 in France was also up 0.1 percent at 4,192.12. Britain's FTSE 100 edged up 0.1 percent at 6,565.42.

Investors are hoping for a robust jobs report after the U.S. economy added a disappointing 74,000 jobs in December. That was the fewest in three years and far below the average of 214,000 added in the previous four months.

"The payroll number will gather most of the limelight today, especially after December's poor release," Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in a commentary.

Futures pointed to gains on Wall Street. Dow futures were up 0.3 percent and S&P futures added 0.4 percent.

The Labor Department earlier this week said fewer people sought unemployment benefits last week while a private survey reported positive data on U.S. hiring. Hopes of a good January report bolstered the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 index, which each closed up 1.2 percent on Thursday, their largest single-day increase since Dec. 18.

Evidence of healthy U.S. job growth would suggest that the world's biggest economy is still expanding solidly enough to support global growth and help allay growing fears of a slowdown.

DBS Vickers in Hong Kong said market consensus was for an 180,000 gain in January but warned it doesn't really show an improvement. At this number, it would leave the 3-month average payrolls at 165,000, which is 17,000 less than six months ago.

"Everyone, including DBS, expects January payrolls will be back to normal. That doesn't mean good. And it doesn't mean that things are getting better," it said in a commentary.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index surged 2.2 percent to 14,462.41 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1 percent to 21,636.85.

South Korea's Kospi climbed 0.8 percent to 1,922.50 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.7 percent to 5,166.50.

China's Shanghai Composite, which reopened after a long Lunar New Year holiday, rebounded from opening losses to rise 0.6 percent to 2,044.50.

After a rocky start to the week, U.S. stocks roared back on Thursday, giving major stock indexes their biggest gain of the year.

Benchmark U.S. oil for March delivery was down 37 cents to $97.47 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 46 cents to close at $97.84 Thursday.

The euro dropped to $1.3566 from $1.3591 from late Thursday. The dollar inched up to 102.11 yen from 102.08 yen.