Global stocks advance ahead of US data run

By The Associated Press Markets Associated Press

Upbeat economic figures from around the world helped shore up global stock markets on Thursday ahead of a raft of U.S. data that could determine the scale of upcoming rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

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KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 0.6 percent to 12,072 while Britain's FTSE 100 advanced 0.7 percent to 7,419. The CAC 40 in France was 0.7 percent higher too at 5,091. U.S. stocks were poised for a steady opening with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.2 percent.

US DATA: Following jitters at the start of the week over North Korea's firing of a missile over Japan, the mood has improved somewhat with most investors monitoring a raft of economic data that culminates with Friday's U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for August. That could help shape market expectations over the pace of interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

ANALYST TAKE: "Of course, Friday's jobs report is widely regarding as the most important data release each month due to the insight it offers on hiring, wages and therefore potential future inflation pressures," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA. "Today's data though is arguably equally important, if not more so at the moment, as it contains the latest inflation numbers — as per the Fed's preferred measure — as well as income and spending figures."

EUROZONE INFLATION: Inflation across the 19-country eurozone struck a four-month high of 1.5 percent in the year to August largely because of higher energy costs, in a development that's unlikely to alter expectations that the European Central Bank will play it safe at next week's policy meeting. The increase was anticipated in financial markets, but inflation remains below the European Central Bank's goal of just below 2 percent.

CHINA MANUFACTURING: An official gauge of Chinese factory activity improved for a 13th straight month in August. The preliminary version of the purchasing managers' index from the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing and the National Bureau of Statistics rose to 51.7 from July's 51.4 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity expanding. An index of new orders rose to 53.1 from July's 52.8.

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ASIA'S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Index was unchanged at 3,360.81 while Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gained 0.7 percent to 19,646.24. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.4 percent to 27,970.30 and Seoul's Kospi lost 0.4 percent to 2,363.19. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 advanced 0.8 percent to 5,714.50.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 28 cents to $46.24 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 35 cents to trade at $51.08 in London.

CURRENCIES: The euro was down 0.4 percent at $1.1837 while the dollar rose 0.3 percent to 110.55 yen.