World stock markets higher on growth hopes


President Barack Obama is visible on the television screens in the Credit Suisse booth as trader Robert Moran works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

LONDON (AP) — World stock markets mostly advanced Thursday as investors enjoyed the positive momentum from the extension of U.S. tax cuts, which boosted expectations of stronger economic growth in the short-term.

A compromise in Washington to extend tax cuts helped shares and sent bond prices sharply lower, as some investors expect it to lead to stronger growth in the world’s No. 1 economy. U.S. jobs data later in the day will be the main focus.

In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.1 percent to 5,801.85, and France’s CAC-40 was up 0.2 percent at 3,839.05. Germany’s DAX was steady at 6,973.81.

Asian indexes closed mostly higher, and Wall Street was set to rise at the open. Dow futures were up 0.3 percent at 11,401, and SP futures were 0.3 percent higher to 1,232.90.

With positive sentiment lingering from the U.S. tax deal, a 30-year Treasury auction later in the day will grab market attention, as will weekly jobless claims. The consensus is the claims dropped to 425,000 after a surprise jump last week.

In Europe, the worst of the debt crisis’ latest flare-up seemed past, with Ireland this week passing a painful austerity budget that will secure its access to an international bailout loan. Portugal and Spain have taken similar steps to shore up their finances, and on Thursday the European Commission said it was taking a “positive look” at extending the loan repayment schedule for Greece.

Olli Rehn, the EU commissioner for economic affairs, said he favors helping Greece smoothen its debt and bailout loan repayment schedule. Expectations are that Greece’s 3-year deadline to start repayments will be pushed back by up to 4 1/2 years, in line with Ireland’s bailout terms.

Market sentiment was boosted earlier in Asia, where Japan’s economic growth rate was revised up to an annualized 4.5 percent in the third quarter and Australian unemployment figures fell.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average closed 0.5 percent higher at 10,285.88, as the dollar hovered near 84 yen, bolstering exporters who in past months were struggling against a much stronger yen.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.3 percent to 23,171.80. South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.7 percent to 1,988.96, thanks to the buying of tech and banking shares.

Australia’s SP/ASX 200 climbed 0.9 percent to 4,741.30 amid data showing the unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent and the number of employed people jumped by 54,600.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index bucked the trend, losing 1.3 percent to 2,810.95 amid continued jitters that interest rates will be raised by the central bank. Benchmarks in Taiwan and Singapore climbed.

In currencies, the dollar slipped to 83.96 yen from 84.01 yen, and the euro fell to $1.3205 from $1.3261.

Benchmark crude for January delivery climbed 81 cents to $89.09 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 41 cents to settle at $88.28 on Wednesday.

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