Global stocks rise on China, Japan stimulus hopes

Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Global stocks rose Monday on expectations China and Japan will take steps to spur economic growth and ahead of an address from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.4 percent to 6,615.588. Germany's DAX rose 1.4 percent to 9,587.19 and France's CAC 40 was up 0.7 percent at 4,411.26 after new figures showed another drop in inflation across the eurozone. The decline to a four-year low will add pressure on the European Central Bank to loosen its monetary policy on Thursday.

That failed, however, to weigh on the euro, which was up 0.1 percent at $1.3781.

On Wall Street, the Dow was up 0.6 percent at 16,426.84 while the S&P 500 was up the same rate at 1,868.82.

Investos will keep an eye out for Yellen's comments for clues on whether the Fed is likely to keep reducing its stimulus program at the current pace.

Earlier, in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.9 percent to 14,827.83 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.4 percent to 22,151.06. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.5 percent to 5,394.80. Stocks in Southeast Asia and Taiwan also rose but China's Shanghai Composite shed 0.4 percent to 2,033.31.

Investors in Japan anticipated the government or the central bank would announce measures to offset the impact of a sales tax hike. Japan's sales tax will increase to 8 percent from 5 percent on Tuesday, a move needed to help stabilize government finances but also a possible setback to economic recovery.

Harumi Taguchi, principal economist at IHS Global Insight, said an unexpectedly weak industrial output report also added pressure for the Bank of Japan to pursue additional monetary easing.

Japan's industrial production for February fell 2 percent from the previous month due to heavy snowfall and slowing demand for construction-related products, Taguchi said in a report.

Investors also increasingly expect that China's government will take measures to prevent a slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy.

An official manufacturing survey due Tuesday might cement those views after another survey released last week show China's manufacturing at an eight month low.

In South Korea, Seoul's Kospi finished 0.2 percent higher at 1,985.61 after losing ground in early trading. The country's military returned fire into North Korean waters after shells from a North Korean live-fire drill fell south of the rivals' disputed western sea boundary.

Lee Sun-yub, an analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp., said the exchange of fire had little impact on foreign investors in South Korea while some local institutional investors used the incident to take profit.

In energy markets, benchmark crude for May delivery was down 15 cents at $101.52 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 39 cents to close at $101.67 on Friday.

In currencies, the dollar strengthened 0.4 percent against the Japanese yen, to 103.35 yen.

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