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Stocks higher, China data boost Asia stocks

9:54 AM, Jan 10, 2013   |    comments
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NEW YORK -- A positive start to the corporate earnings season and a sharp improvement in China's monthly trade helped boost world markets Thursday.

The euro jumped on news the European Central Bank decided not to cut interest rates.Stock indexes rose after a handful of better-than-expected results from U.S. companies sparked gains on Wall Street. Consumer products maker Helen of Troy, whose brands include Dr. Scholl's and Vidal Sassoon, reported a 15% profit increase. Electronic payments processor Global Payments said its fiscal second-quarter earnings rose nearly 15%, beating analyst expectations.

A rebound in trade figures for China, the world's second-largest economy, also suggested a recovery in global demand, lifting investment sentiment. Export growth more than quadrupled in December from November's level, to 14.1%. Imports rose 6% after failing to grow at all in November.

By midafternoon in Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.2% to 6,111.62 while Germany's DAX rose 0.5% to 7,761.99. France's CAC-40 was flat at 3,718.40.

Wall Street was also poised for gains. Dow Jones industrial futures rose 0.4% to 13,380 while S&P 500 futures added 0.5% to 1,462.80.

The euro jumped 1% to $1.3195 after the ECB left its interest rate at the record low of 0.75% and said it had not even considered the possibility of a cut. A currency's value usually tracks expectations of interest rates.

In a press conference, ECB President Mario Draghi said the eurozone economy should start to grow again later this year. He added, however, that the region has yet to reach a turning point and that governments must press on with savings cuts.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.7% to close at 10,652.64. South Korea's Kospi added 0.8% to 2,006.80. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.3% to 4,723. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and New Zealand also rose.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.6% to 23,354.31 following a decision by the China Securities Regulatory Commission to allow some initial public offerings of mainland companies to be carried out in Hong Kong.

The move is an effort to clear a backlog of IPOs that the understaffed CSRC cannot handle, said Francis Lun, managing director of Lyncean Holdings in Hong Kong.

"It's a practical way to handle an emergency problem," Lun said. It will boost the Hong Kong exchange's market capitalization by one-third, he said.

A weakening yen helped propel Japan's export-reliant carmakers higher. As the dollar rose another 0.3% against the yen, to 88.18 yen, shares in Mazda Motor Corp. soared 10.2%. Honda Motor Co. gained 2.5%.

Hong Kong-listed Aluminum Corp. of China surged 6.5% a day after U.S. aluminum giant Alcoa forecast demand would grow 7% in 2013, up from a 6% gain in 2012.

Benchmark crude oil contract for February delivery was up $1.15 to $94.25 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 5 cents to close at $93.10 per barrel on the Nymex on Wednesday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3101 from $1.3053.

Associated Press

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