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China leads Asian stocks higher, Europe gains

MUMBAI, India/HONG KONG --Asian and European stock markets mostly posted gains Wednesday led by a surge in Chinese stocks and in anticipation of a raft of British economic data.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of major British stocks gained 0.4 percent to 6,862.04 and Germany's DAX inched up 0.2 percent to 9,750.76. The CAC-40 in France added 0.3 percent to 4,335.35. Wall Street was set for an indifferent open with Dow futures slightly lower and S&P 500 futures a shade higher.

“The major bourses are in for a firmer start as they ride the momentum from Asian trade,” strategist Stan Shamu of IG Markets said in a report.

He said a raft of British economic data due later would be significant for markets. “Any indications of further strength in the UK economy could see the pound continue its run.”

Asian markets were largely higher on Wednesday, with Tokyo reversing early losses after the Bank of Japan said it was winning the war against deflation and delayed injecting fresh stimulus into Asia's number two economy.

Wall Street provided a soft lead on its first trading day of the week Tuesday owing to an underwhelming slate of corporate earnings and despite an upward revision of the International Monetary Fund's global growth outlook.

Tokyo closed 0.16 percent higher on Wednesday, rising 25 points to 15,820.96, while Sydney eased 0.22 percent, or 11.7 points, to close at 5,319.8 after the release of stronger than expected inflation data.

Seoul gained 0.33 percent, or 6.53 points, to end at 1,970.42.

Shanghai surged 2.16 percent, or 43.44 points, to close at 2,051.75 while Hong Kong added 0.21 percent, or 49.13 points, to 23,082.25.

The policy board of Japan's central bank decided unanimously to refrain from adding fresh stimulus to combat deflation, with analysts expecting more easing measures later in the year after policymakers gauge the effect of an April sales tax increase.

Chinese shares benefited from positive sentiment Wednesday after the country's central bank injected funds into the money market.

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