NEW YORK -- A positive start to the corporate earnings season and a
sharp improvement in China's monthly trade helped boost world markets
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.
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.
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
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
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.
practical way to handle an emergency problem," Lun said. It will boost
the Hong Kong exchange's market capitalization by one-third, he said.
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%.
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.