World stocks gain after US rally, Federal Reserve meeting awaited

Energy Associated Press

Global stock markets swung higher Wednesday, cheered by a surge in U.S. stocks that were buoyed by solid earnings, while investors were also waiting for signs from the Federal Reserve on U.S. monetary policy.

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KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX rose nearly 1 percent to 9,153.70 and the CAC-40 in Paris inched up 0.3 percent to 4,126.38. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.5 percent to 6,433.18. It was unclear whether Wall Street was headed for another day of gains. Futures for the Standard & Poor's 500 were little changed at 1,979.90. Dow Jones industrial average futures were up 0.1 percent to 16,955. On Wednesday, the S&P rose 1.2 percent, and the Dow Jones industrial had added 1.1 percent.

FED WATCHING: Global investors are looking ahead to Wednesday's announcement from the Federal Reserve's policymaking committee for insight into when the central bank might start raising interest rates. The Fed is winding down its $4 trillion bond-buying program, or quantitative easing. There are worries whether the U.S. economy is strong enough to keep growing without that. A hobbled U.S. economy is bad news for Asia's export-oriented nations.

THE QUOTE: Chang Wei Liang at Mizuho Bank in Singapore said global stock prices have been supported by the expectation that the Fed won't shift policy, "with the market anticipating no change in the forward guidance with continued emphasis on monetary accommodation." In Asia, industrial output figures showed Japan's recovery remains on track, adding to the optimism, according to Liang.

ASIA'S DAY: Tokyo's Nikkei, the benchmark for the region's biggest bourse, jumped 1.5 percent to 15,553.91. Japanese telecom Softbank Corp., which announced a large investment in Indian technology companies, rose 1.2 percent. South Korea's Kospi gained 1.8 percent to 1,961.17. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.3 percent to 23,819.87 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.1 percent to 5,447.70.

UPBEAT EARNINGS: Earnings season around the world has lifted sentiments so far. In the U.S., healthy reports from Caterpillar and Whirlpool were behind the rise on Wall Street overnight. The picture is likely to be more mixed in Asia. Honda, which reported a rise in quarterly profit but lowered its annual forecast Tuesday, finished down 0.1 percent on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

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ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 38 cents at $81.82 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

CURRENCIES: The dollar was little changed at 107.98 yen from Tuesday's 108.11 yen. The euro fell to $1.2735 from $1.2737.

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