U.S. Markets closed

World stocks higher, British economy grows in 1Q

Pamela Sampson, AP Business Writer

A man looks at an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Thursday, April 25, 2013. Asian stocks rose Thursday as mixed U.S. corporate earnings and a slump in orders for U.S. durable goods convinced investors that central banks would continue efforts to help the global economic recovery. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.5 percent to 13,909.40. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

BANGKOK (AP) -- World stocks were mostly higher Thursday as a slump in orders for U.S. durable goods and other data convinced investors that central banks would continue efforts to help the global economic recovery.

Confidence also got a boost after Britain said its economy grew in the first quarter of the year. The Office for National Statistics said Thursday that the economy grew by a better-than-expected 0.3 percent from the previous quarter.

Britain's FTSE 100 was up marginally at 6,433.32. Germany's DAX rose 0.1 percent to 7,768.14 while France's CAC-40 shed 0.2 percent to 3,834.90.

Wall Street appeared headed for gains, with Dow Jones industrial futures rising 0.2 percent to 14,642. S&P 500 futures rose nearly 0.2 percent to 1,576.40.

The U.S. government, meanwhile, reported Wednesday that orders for long-lasting factory goods fell more than economists expected. That added to concerns that global growth is slowing. Orders for durable goods declined 5.7 percent in March following a 4.3 percent gain the previous month. The March figure was the biggest dip in seven months.

Mitul Kotecha at Credit Agricole CIB said that data reinforced concerns of an economic slowdown. However, he said that markets were thrust higher by hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks would continue to pursue policies to encourage growth.

"There has been a run of weaker U.S. data and that effectively dampens expectations that the Fed may pare back its asset purchases prematurely or early, and I think that is supportive of equity markets," Kotecha said. He also noted that core capital goods, which strip out defense and aircraft orders, were "quite healthy," edging up 0.2 percent. Economists pay close attention to these orders because they are a good measure of companies' investment plans.

Asian stocks were mostly higher. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 percent to close at 13,926.08. Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 1 percent to 22,401.24. South Korea's Kospi added 0.8 percent to 1,951.60. Benchmark indexes in Singapore and Thailand also rose. Indonesia and mainland China fell. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.9 percent to 2,199.31 while the Shenzhen Composite Index fell 1.7 percent to 927.80.

Markets in Australia and New Zealand were closed for public holidays.

Rising metals prices helped stocks such as Hong Kong-listed Zijin Mining Group, China's largest gold miner, which rose 4.9 percent. Jiangxi Copper Co. rose 4.4 percent.

Benchmark oil for June delivery was up 19 cents at $91.61 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped $2.25, or 2.5 percent, to finish at $91.43 a barrel Wednesday on the Nymex.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3067 from $1.3021 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar fell to 99.23 yen from 99.51 yen.