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World stocks boosted by continued US job growth

KUALA LUMPUR/HONG KONG--Global stock markets were mostly higher Monday as signs of U.S. economic recovery offset concerns that the Federal Reserve may reduce its monetary stimulus this month.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was flat at 6,550.08 and Germany's DAX gained 0.5 percent to 9,316.73. The CAC-40 in France, however, dipped 0.1 percent to 4,124.47.

Futures pointed to gains on Wall Street, with Dow and S&P 500 futures both up 0.1 percent.

Fears of a reduction in the Fed's US$85 billion-a-month bond-buying scheme — which has been credited with fuelling an equities rally in world markets — pushed down stocks last week.

However, analysts said it may hold off any taper at its December meeting because the pace of jobs growth is still below the levels seen at the start of the year, while economic growth in October-December is expected to be sluggish.

They forecast that the central bank will wait to see whether the jobs figures can be sustained over another month.

“The correction stage of the U.S. shares prior to the employment data release is over and there is greater optimism in the market, buoyed by the reaction to the strong employment figures,” Mitsushige Akino, fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management, told Dow Jones Newswires.

The U.S. on Friday reported a fourth straight month of job gains, with 203,000 new jobs created in November. The unemployment rate fell to 7.0 percent from 7.3 percent. The strengthening job market focused investors on the improving economy instead of concerns about a possible reduction in the Fed's stimulus at its Dec. 17-18 policy meeting.

A run of strong economic data last week had already cemented belief among investors that the Fed would back a so-called tapering of its US$85 billion in monthly bond purchases. Earlier this year, fears of the stimulus withdrawal had caused jitters in the markets as the monetary injection has helped to shore up stocks for several years.

“The jobs data followed on from several other firm U.S. data releases over the week, highlighting strengthening signs of recovery. Equities reacted well, rising as fears over tapering were outweighed by concrete signs of recovery,” Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in a market commentary.

Asian markets mostly rose on Monday and the dollar edged higher against the yen as Wall Street rallied in response to a surprisingly sharp fall in the U.S. jobless rate.

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