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May 28, 2017

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World stocks rise on high Japan growth, US jobs

TOKYO/HONG KONG--World stock markets were mostly higher Monday after stronger first quarter growth in Japan added to positive sentiment from solid hiring in the U.S.

European shares eked out gains in early trading. Germany's DAX rose 0.1 percent to 9,994.86 and France's CAC-40 added 0.1 percent to 4,584.58. Britain's FTSE 100 advanced 0.3 percent to 6,876.66. Wall Street was set for a more uncertain start. Dow Jones futures were down 0.1 percent at 16,919. S&P 500 futures fell 0.1 percent to 1,947.10.

Japan's government reported that the economy grew an annualized 6.7 percent in the January-March quarter thanks to strong private investment, up from an earlier estimate of 5.9 percent growth. The revised data shows the world's No. 3 economy in better shape to withstand the drop in consumer demand that followed a 3 percentage point hike in sales tax on April 1.

"Results are certainly stronger than expected," IG strategist Evan Lucas said in a market commentary.

News on Friday that U.S. employers added workers at a decent clip for the fourth straight month propelled the Standard & Poor's 500 to its eighth record high in the previous 10 days. That positive sentiment appeared to spill over into Monday's Asian trading.

After selling to lock in profits late last week, investors were heartened by the economic data, said Linus Yip, a strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong.

"The short-term uncertainty is over, so now the funds are coming back," he said.

U.S. employers added 217,000 jobs during May, in the range of what economists had expected. The unemployment rate stayed put at 6.3 percent. Wall Street forecasters had expected it to inch up.

Offsetting the positive U.S. and Japan data were Chinese trade figures released on the weekend showing exports picked up in May but imports fell, suggesting continued sluggishness in the world's No. 2 economy.

Asian markets mostly rose Monday.

Tokyo rose 0.31 percent, or 46.76 points, to 15,124.00 — a three-month high — while Hong Kong gained 0.79, or 166.47 points, to 23,117.47.

Shanghai was flat, edging up 0.55 points to 2,030.50 but Seoul eased 0.27 percent, or 5.44 points, to 1,990.04.

Sydney was closed for a public holiday.

The Dow climbed 0.52 percent and the S&P 500 jumped 0.46 percent, both ending at record highs. The tech-rich Nasdaq added 0.59 percent to close at its best level since mid-March.

Sunday saw China release figures showing the country's key exports jumped seven percent in May, much better than the 0.9 percent seen in April and in line with forecasts of 7.2 percent.

However, imports dipped surprisingly, meaning the trade surplus surged 75 percent year on year to US$35.92 billion, much more than expectations of US$23.4 billion.

Gold fetched US$1,255.94 an ounce at 1105 GMT compared with US$1,251.85 late Friday.

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