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China stimulus, US jobs data send shares higher

TOKYO -- World stock markets were mostly higher Thursday as investors took heart from new stimulus in China and evidence of stronger U.S. hiring.

Gains were modest, however, in early European trading, as markets awaited a decision by the European Central Bank on further monetary easing.

Germany's DAX inched up 0.04 percent to 9,628.78 and Britain's FTSE 100 was 0.1 percent higher at 6,659.04. France's CAC 40 slipped 0.03 percent to 4,429.45.

Wall Street looked ready for another day of gains, with Dow Jones and S&P 500 futures both up 0.1 percent.

U.S. stocks gained for a fourth straight day Wednesday after a report on hiring reinforced confidence the economy is emerging from a winter slump.

In a further boost to market sentiment, China's State Council, or cabinet, pledged Wednesday evening to do more to support companies, expand consumer demand and create jobs. The moves include increased railway investments and an easing of controls on property dealings in some cities.

That boosted buying of shares in railways and construction-related companies and helped to push Hong Kong's Hang Seng up 0.2 percent to 22,565.08.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 stock index rose 0.8 percent to 15,071.88, buoyed by the weaker yen and buying of automakers and machine manufacturers such as industrial robot maker Fanuc Corp.

But Shanghai's Composite Index fell 0.7 percent to 2,043.70, weighed by worries over tightening liquidity and a possible restart of initial public offerings. Blue-chip “A-shares” cannot follow the lead of upbeat global markets, said Jackson Wong, a vice president at Tanrich Securities in Hong Kong.

“They haven't rolled anything out to boost A-shares. They're still worried about IPOs. They've got their own problems,” Wong said.

South Korea's Kospi gave up early gains to edge 0.2 percent lower to 1,993.70 following the release of a central bank survey outlining banks' concerns over rising household debt risks.

On Wall Street the S&P 500 closed at a second straight record high after payrolls firm ADP said U.S. businesses added 191,000 jobs in March, returning to the level of growth seen in December before severe winter weather struck the country. The February number was also revised up by 39,000 to 178,000 jobs.

Gold fetched US$1,286.75 an ounce at 1046 GMT compared with US$1,283.33 late Wednesday.

In other markets:

— Bangkok lost 0.39 percent, or 5.40 points, to 1,391.22.

— Jakarta ended up 0.43 percent, or 21.12 points, at 4,891.32.

— Kuala Lumpur's gained 0.20 percent, or 3.63 points, to 1,855.63.

— Manila ended flat, dipping 0.64 points to 6,587.08.

— Singapore climbed 0.85 percent, or 27.28 points, to 3,220.06.

— Wellington rose 0.12 percent, or 6.06 points, to 5,122.37.

— Mumbai fell 0.19 percent or 42.42 points to end at 22,509.07 points.

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 TDCC and Euroclear partner for int'l bond market 
Traders Michael Smyth, left, and Greg Mulligan work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on March 12. World stock markets were mostly higher on Thursday, April 3 as investors took heart from new stimulus measures in China and evidence of stronger U.S. hiring. (AP)

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