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World stocks edge up as Wall Street nears highs

Pamela Sampson, AP Business Writer

A man takes a picture of an electric stock price display of a securities firm with a smartphone in Tokyo Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. Asian stock markets posted modest gains Tuesday as the feel-good factor lingered from near-record highs on Wall Street and signs of an upswing in U.S. manufacturing. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

BANGKOK (AP) -- World stock markets posted modest gains Tuesday as the feel-good factor lingered from near-record highs on Wall Street and signs of an upswing in U.S. manufacturing.

European stocks were mostly up in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent to 6,304.98. Germany's DAX added 0.1 percent to 7,842.10. France's CAC-40 was nearly unchanged at 3,781.22.

Wall Street futures were nearly unchanged. Dow Jones industrial futures gained less than 0.1 percent to 13,839 while S&P 500 futures slipped marginally to 1,496.50 ahead of the release of consumer confidence data for January.

"Investors are a bit more confident and responding to the fact that interest rates are very low and being kept that way by central banks," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. "They are looking to maintain the value of their portfolios by getting themselves into an asset class more likely to be earnings a reasonable return."

Analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore said that benchmarks in South Korea and Taiwan are recuperating after recent sell-offs amid worries that the depreciating yen will hurt economic growth in those countries. South Korea release its January trade figures later this week and Taiwan reports fourth quarter economic growth.

"While exporters in Korea and Taiwan will face competition from Japanese counterparts, importers could benefit from a cheap the yen due to the high dependence on industrial supplies from Japan," DBS said in an email commentary.

South Korea's Kospi rose 0.8 percent to 1,955.96. Technology giant Samsung Electronics rose 2.7 percent, following four consecutive days of losses. Taiwan's TAIEX advanced 1.1 percent. Acer Inc., one of the world's leading PC manufacturers, surged 6.7 percent.

Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.4 percent to 10,866.72. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped less than 0.1 percent to 23,655.17. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.1 percent to 4,889.

Japanese banks surged on expectations they will beat earnings estimates for fiscal 2012, the Nikkei newspaper reported. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group advanced 3.8 percent. Mizuho Financial Group gained 2.9 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group rose 4.4 percent.

There will plenty of fresh data from the U.S. to drive trading this week, including retail sales, economic growth and the government's report on hiring and employment in January, which is due out Friday. More than one-fifth of the companies in the S&P 500 will report fourth-quarter earnings this week. Moreover, the Federal Reserve's policy committee begins a two-day meeting that concludes Wednesday.

Strong corporate earnings helped push the S&P 500 above 1,500 Friday, the first time in more than five years. The breakthrough happened on an eighth straight daily gain for stocks, itself a remarkable performance. That is the longest winning streak since November 2004.

But stocks cooled off by Monday. A report showed that orders for long-lasting goods rose in December by 4.6 percent, which was encouraging news about manufacturing, but stocks fell later after a disappointing report on the pace of home sales.

Benchmark oil for March delivery was up 28 cents to $96.72 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 56 cents to finish at $96.44 a barrel on the Nymex on Monday.

In currencies, the euro fell slightly to $1.3454 from $1.3456 from late Monday in New York. The dollar fell to 90.63 yen from 90.79 yen.


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