Stock markets mostly higher as weak Chinese economic data increases hopes for stimulus

Markets Associated Press

World stocks mostly rose on Monday, with China's index closing at a seven-year high, as a run of weak indicators boosted hopes for stimulus in the world's second-largest economy.

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KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX was flat at 12,372.99 and France's CAC 40 was up 0.1 percent to 5,243.32. Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.5 percent. A broader measure of European shares, the Stoxx 600, was at record highs, edging up 0.1 percent from the record close set on Friday. On Wall Street, futures for the Standard & Poor's 500 and Down were both down 0.1 percent.

CHINA'S STIMULUS HOPES: Markets were boosted by expectations that a sharper-than-forecast contraction in March trade increased chances that Beijing will launch additional stimulus to spur slowing growth. Imports fell 12.7 percent from a year earlier and exports declined 15 percent. That added to signs that growth in the first three months of the year, due to be reported Wednesday, might decline further from the previous quarter's 7.3 percent.

THE QUOTE: "The elephant in the room is whether China's deterioration has endured," following softer industrial output and other data in January and February, Mizuho Bank said in a report. "The silver lining is that a softer outcome under disinflationary conditions will allow more stimulus to propel a revival in growth."

ASIA'S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Index rose 2.2 percent to 4,121.71 points, closing above 4,100 for the first time since March 11, 2008. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 2.7 percent to 28,016.34 and Seoul's Kospi rose 0.5 percent to 2,098.92. India's Sensex added 0.3 percent to 28,876.49 and Sydney's S&P ASX 200 edged up 0.1 percent to 5,960.30. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 was unchanged at 19,905.46 after briefly passing 20,000 last week.

CURRENCY: The dollar rose across the board as it continued to benefit from expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will not raise interest rates as quickly as early expected. It rose to 120.69 yen from Friday's 120.18 yen. The euro fell to $1.0530 from the previous session's $1.0586.

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ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 61 cents to $52.25 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 85 cents on Friday to close at $51.64.