World stocks up as investors look to G-20 summit

Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) — World stock markets posted modest gains Friday, ignoring a raft of disappointing U.S. corporate earnings as officials from the world's biggest economies meet in Washington to search for ways to remedy sluggish global growth.

Group of 20 officials were to wrap up discussions later in the day and issue a statement that is expected to touch on the need for countries to take steps to encourage economic growth while avoiding measures that might spark a currency war.

Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent to 6,264.77. Germany's DAX rose 0.5 percent to 7,509.18. France's CAC-40 advanced 0.9 percent to 3,633.21.

Wall Street looked set to end the week with gains. Dow Jones industrial futures rose 0.6 percent to 14,495 and S&P 500 futures gained 0.7 percent to 1,544.10.

The G-20 is composed of the world's major developed countries such as the United States, Japan and Germany and fast-growing developing nations including China, Brazil and India.

There have been increasing concerns around the world that countries might manipulate their exchange rates through their domestic economic policies in order to gain an edge in trade. The process could spark a "currency war" — where countries compete against one another to get the lowest exchange rates. Japan has been at the center of concerns recently as the yen weakens due to the central bank's aggressive monetary easing.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.7 percent to close at 13,316.48. South Korea's Kospi added 0.4 percent to 1,906.75. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2 percent to 4,933.60.

Benchmarks in Taiwan, Thailand and mainland China also advanced. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 2.1 percent to 2,244.64 while the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index gained 2.2 percent to 943.42.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 2.3 percent to 22,013.57, with investors shopping for bargains after a five-session sell-off shaved nearly 600 points from the index. Chinese PC maker Lenovo Group soared 9.5 percent. Hong Kong-listed banks also took off. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the world's biggest bank by market value, rose 4 percent. Bank of China advanced 2.9 percent.

"The banks fell quite a bit recently because of rumors that the banking commissioner was going to take a hard look at lending, so it is just bottom-fishing" for stocks at good prices, said Francis Lun, chief economist at GE Oriental Financial Group in Hong Kong.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was up 69 cents to $88.42 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.05, or 1.2 percent, to finish at $87.73 a barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3093 from $1.3048 late Thursday in New York. The dollar rose to 99.17 from 98.12 yen.

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