Japanese stocks jump, leading markets higher

Associated Press
A man reflected on the electronic board of a securities firm in Tokyo,Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. Japan led Asian stock markets higher Tuesday after the country's central bank announced new measures to support growth.(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
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MUMBAI, India (AP) — Japan led stock markets higher Tuesday after the country's central bank announced new measures to support growth and Wall Street reopened after a long weekend.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo vaulted 3.1 percent to 14,843.24 after the Bank of Japan topped up its already lavish monetary stimulus. It said it was doubling the size of its fund to support bank lending and its fund to support economic growth. The funds, which were due to expire shortly, were extended for another year.

The BoJ moves come after fourth quarter economic growth fell short of forecasts despite massive fiscal and monetary stimulus intended to engineer a recovery.

European stocks were more sluggish, however, after a key measure of German investor confidence fell. The ZEW index fell much more than expected, mainly because of turmoil in emerging markets, but remained at historically high levels.

Germany's DAX traded lower most of the day but eked out gains to close flat at 9,659.78. France's CAC 40 fell 0.1 percent to 4,330.71. Britain's FTSE 100 was the region's standout performer, rising 1 percent to 6,802.61 after a drop in the country's inflation rate suggested the central bank will refrain from raising interest rates anytime soon.

On Wall Street, which reopened Tuesday after the President's Day holiday, the Dow was flat at 16,152.31 while the S&P 500 was 0.2 percent higher at 1,841.70. Forest Laboratories jumped 30 percent on reports it will be bought by another drugmaker, Actavis.

In Asia, Seoul's Kospi closed slightly higher at 1,946.91 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.2 percent to 5,392.80.

Taiwan's index gained 0.4 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2 percent but China's Shanghai Composite fell. India's Sensex rose 0.9 percent.

Benchmark U.S. oil for March delivery was up $1.36 to $101.71 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract last settled on Friday.

In currencies, the euro rose 0.4 percent to $1.3757 while the dollar gained 0.4 percent to 102.31 yen.

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