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World stocks mostly higher

Toby Sterling, AP Business Writer

A woman watches an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Thursday, May 16, 2013. Asian stock markets were mixed Thursday following dour European economic data that dampened hopes of a recovery there anytime soon. However, losses were limited by another record session on Wall Street. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

AMSTERDAM (AP) -- World stock markets shrugged off suggestions the U.S. Federal Reserve may begin to reverse some of its asset purchase programs by the end of the summer, and were mostly higher ahead of key data releases Friday.

The Conference Board is due to report on U.S. leading indicators after North American markets open, along with the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index. Analysts are expecting both to show an improvement from March.

That could counterbalance negative news that set markets back Thursday, including a jump in unemployment aid applications and comments from John Williams, head of the Federal Reserve's San Francisco branch, who said the Fed should consider ending purchases of mortgage-linked bonds.

"Such suggestions are not to be taken lightly and it is hard to believe that equities will not experience a 'realignment' of sorts once the Fed does finally start to close the spigot," said analysts from Charles Stanley in a note.

Many investors attribute the recent rally to easy monetary policy.

Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent to 6,712.87. Germany's DAX climbed 0.2 percent to 8,390.04. France's CAC-40 was up 0.4 percent to 3,995.56.

Wall Street appeared ready to recoup Thursday's losses: Dow Jones industrial futures rose 48 points to 15,260 and S&P 500 futures rose 6.25 points to 1,654.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.7 percent to close at 15,138.12, reversing a lower open. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3 percent to 5,180.80, pushed up by gains in BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company. The stock rose 1.9 percent on bargain-hunting.

Benchmarks in mainland China and Indonesia also rose while those in Taiwan, India, Singapore, New Zealand and the Philippines fell. Markets in Hong Kong and South Korea were closed for public holidays.

Evan Lucas of IG Markets in Melbourne attributed the declining markets to investors there booking profits.

"There is always an uneasy feeling underlying the markets when they start making all-time highs," Lucas said.

Corporate earnings, which have been helping to power Wall Street to all-time highs, took a step back on Thursday after Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, reported a disappointing first-quarter profit and acknowledged a sales slump. Personal computer maker Dell posted dismal first-quarter earnings.

Benchmark oil for June delivery rose 59 cents per barrel, or 0.6 percent, to $95.75 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.2827 from $1.2907 late Thursday in New York. The dollar rose to 102.56 yen from 102.06 yen.


AP Business Writer Pamela Sampson contributed to this story from Bangkok