BANGKOK (AP) — World stock markets rose Thursday after a survey showed that China's manufacturing expanded for the first time in 13 months, rare good news for the struggling global economy. Sentiment also benefited from a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
HSBC's Purchasing Managers' Index, which combines various measures of manufacturing activity in China, rose to 50.4 for November. That was up from October's PMI of 49.5 and September's PMI of 47.9. Readings above 50 denote growth.
The survey shows that the "economic recovery continues to gain momentum towards the year end," analysts at HSBC said. "However, it is still the early stage of recovery and global economic growth remains fragile."
Stocks in Europe were higher in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent to 5,775.44. Germany's DAX added 0.5 percent to 7,221.09 and France's CAC-40 advanced 0.3 percent to 3,487.34. U.S. stock markets will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday and will also close early Friday.
Asian markets also registered strong gains, boosted by the manufacturing news from China, a major market for many countries in the region.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1 percent to close at 21,743.20. South Korea's Kospi added 0.8 percent to 1,899.50 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1 percent to 4,424.20. Benchmarks in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan also advanced.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.6 percent to close at 9,366.80 — its highest finish since May 2 — as a recently weakened yen provided a vital boost to the export-heavy index.
Positive news out of Europe and the U.S. also helped sustain investor confidence. In Europe, finance ministers from the 17 countries that use the euro will continue talks Monday to reach an agreement on releasing more money to debt-crippled Greece. Athens is expected to eventually get an overdue €31.5 billion ($40 billion) loan payment urgently needed to pay its bills.
Investors are also expecting a resolution to the U.S. "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and government spending cuts that are set to take effect Jan. 1 unless Congress and the Obama administration reach a deal first.
Independent analyst Andrew Sullivan in Hong Kong said overall investment sentiment could improve once the U.S. budget issue is dealt with. Traders are also keeping an eye on Japan's election on Dec. 16, which could usher in new leaders calling for bold monetary policies to get the country out of deflation.
"I think over the next few weeks we will see the market continue to grind higher," Sullivan said. "That will give equity investors more confidence as prospects improve."
Among individual stocks, Japan's export shares were among the big gainers. Yamaha Motor Co. jumped 4.8 percent. Sharp Corp. gained 4.3 percent.
South Korean high-tech shares also rose. SK Hynix gained 2.8 percent and Samsung Electronics added 2.4 percent. In Hong Kong, China Mobile Ltd. rose 1.6 percent.
Wall Street got a slight bounce Wednesday after news of a cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Hamas militant group to end eight days of fierce fighting in the Gaza Strip.
Benchmark crude for January delivery was up 24 cents to $87.62 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 63 cents to finish at $87.38 on the Nymex on Wednesday.
In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2859 from $1.2825 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar slipped to 82.73 yen from 82.49 yen.
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