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World stocks mostly higher over US economy optimism

HONG KONG--World stock markets mostly rose Monday on investor optimism about the U.S. economy, hints from China about further stimulus and weakness in the yen.

Markets in Asia were supported by Friday's Commerce Department report that new home sales rose 6.4 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted 433,000 after falling in the previous two months. Demand for new homes has been one of the last missing pieces as the U.S. economy, the world's largest, recovers from the global financial crisis.

Investors were also heartened after the Standard & Poor's 500 finished 0.4 percent higher at 1,900.53, the first time it has ended above the 1,900 level.

Remarks by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that suggested Beijing is preparing further mini-stimulus measures to support the economy gave a lift to Chinese shares.

Li said appropriate policy tools and timely fine tuning are being prepared as the world's second biggest economy continues to face “relatively big” downward pressure, the state-run China Daily newspaper said Saturday, citing a speech Li gave on Thursday.

Trading was lighter than usual, with markets in the U.S. and Britain closed for holidays. In early European trading, Germany's DAX rose 1 percent to 9,860.38 and France's CAC-40 was up 0.4 percent to 4,509.71.

Asian markets mostly rose Monday following a record close on Wall Street that was fuelled by upbeat U.S. data, while Tokyo was boosted by a weaker yen.

Tokyo shares closed up 0.97 percent, or 140.35 points to finish at 14,602.52 and Sydney rose 0.36 percent, or 20.013 points, to 5512.8 while Seoul slipped 0.34 percent, or 6.82 points to 2,010.35.

Chinese stocks ended higher in afternoon trade Monday.

Shanghai added 0.34 percent, or 6.91 points, to 2,041.48 while Hong Kong was flat, edging down 2.68 points to 22,963.18.

Regional markets last week enjoyed broad advances after a sharp improvement in Chinese manufacturing activity and positive comments about interest rates from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

U.S. shares rallied on Friday after the Commerce Department said new single-family homes were sold at an annual rate of 433,000 units in April, well above analysts' forecast of 415,000.

The news added to a growing sense that the world's biggest economy is well on the recovery track. The S&P 500 advanced 0.42 percent to 1,900.53, ending above the 1,900 barrier for the first time.

The Dow rose 0.38 percent and the Nasdaq gained 0.76 percent in quiet trade as investors wound down for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Market-watchers will be keeping an eye on the release later in the week of key U.S. data, including gross domestic product growth and housing figures.

Gold fetched US$1,293.04 an ounce at 1050 GMT compared with US$1,291.65 late Friday.

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