Global stocks rise on strong corporate earnings reports

By ELAINE KURTENBACH Markets Associated Press

Global stocks rose Friday on the back of strong corporate earnings reports and as investors look ahead to U.S. GDP data.

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KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX climbed 0.7 percent to 13,227 and the CAC 40 of France gained 0.8 percent to 5,496. The FTSE 100 of Britain rose 0.2 percent to 7,498. Dow and S&P futures both were up 0.2 percent, pointing to a positive start on Wall Street.

EARNINGS: Company earnings reports continue to mostly come in above expectations. Major tech companies Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft all posted strong figures late Thursday while on Friday Volkswagen raised its profit forecast for the year despite booking more charges for its diesel scandal. And though drug maker Merck reported a loss, it was not as bad as markets were expecting and the company also raised its outlook for the year.

CENTRAL BANKS: Stock indexes were also supported since the European Central Bank said Thursday that it will act gradually in reducing its bond purchases, which it has been making to strengthen the economy. Starting in January the bank plans to cut the size of its purchases in half, to 30 billion euros a month. Investors were relieved the bank isn't being more aggressive.

US GROWTH: One of the focus points later for investors will be the first estimate of U.S. economic growth in the July-September quarter. Economists expect a solid 2 percent annualized rate, driven mainly by consumer spending and despite damage wrought by the summer's hurricanes.

ASIA'S DAY: The Nikkei 225's close at 22,008.45 was a new 21-year high for the index. Gains for U.S. technology companies pushed South Korea's Kospi up 0.6 percent to 2,496.63 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index surged 0.8 percent to 28,438.85. The Shanghai Composite index added 0.3 percent to 3,416.81 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell back to end 0.2 percent lower at 5,903.20. India's Sensex picked up 0.2 percent to 33,227.61. Shares in Southeast Asia were mixed.

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CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 114.20 yen from 114.00 yen. The euro fell to $1.1605 from $1.1654 as investors expect interest rates in Europe to stay lower for longer than they had believed earlier.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 11 cents to $52.53 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 46 cents on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gave up 19 cents to $59.11 a barrel.