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World stocks gain on hopes of US bouncing despite report

HONG KONG--Asian stock markets rose Thursday while European gains were more restrained, as investors largely brushed off a poor quarterly U.S. economic report as a blip and instead factored in rebounding growth as policymakers maintain ultralow interest rates.

Investors were unfazed by the U.S. government's report that the world's biggest economy shrank 2.9 percent in the first quarter, the fastest contraction since the global crisis five years ago.

The downturn, due to a severe winter that closed factories, disrupted shipping and kept Americans away from malls, was seen as temporary, with growth rebounding sharply since spring. Investors may also be betting that it gives policymakers a reason not to raise rates.

In early European trading, France's CAC 40 edged up 0.2 percent 4,467.07 while Germany's DAX inched 0.1 percent higher to 9,874.59. The FTSE 100 index of leading British companies was little changed at 6,734.26.

U.S. stocks were poised for a flat open after inching higher the previous day. Dow futures were little changed at 16,770.00 while broader S&P 500 futures slipped 0.1 percent to 1,947.30.

Asian markets climbed Thursday, boosted by bargain hunting and a positive lead from Wall Street that came despite a worse-than-expected first quarter contraction in the U.S. economy.

Tokyo rose 0.27 percent, or 41.88 points to 15,308.49, Sydney jumped 1.15 percent, or 62.29 points, to 5464.3 and Seoul added 0.67 percent, or 13.28 points, at 1,995.05.

Shanghai ended 0.65 percent, or 13.18 points, higher at 2,038.68 and Hong Kong rallied 1.45 percent, or 331.13 points, to 23,197.83.

On Wall Street, the Dow added 0.29 percent and the S&P 500 rose 0.49 percent, while the Nasdaq advanced 0.68 percent.

Gold fetched US$1,309.11 an ounce at 1145 GMT compared with US$1,312.60 late Wednesday.

In other markets:

— Bangkok rose 0.61 percent or 8.99 points to 1,477.48.

Telecoms company Advanced Info Service added 2.79 percent to 221.00 baht, while oil company PTT rose 2.67 percent to 308.00 baht.

— Jakarta rose 0.69 percent, or 33.44 points, to close at 4,872.42.

Palm oil producer Astra Agro Lestari rose 1.03 percent to 29,300 rupiah, while Hero Supermarket fell 0.93 percent to 2,665 rupiah.

— Manila climbed 0.84 percent, or 57.50 points, to close at 6,892.18.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone rose 2.0 percent to 2,958 pesos and Ayala Land added 0.32 percent to 31.40 pesos.

— Mumbai fell 0.18 percent or 44.45 points to 25,201.80.

Bharat Electronics rose 7.73 percent to 1961.35 rupees, while United Spirits slid 7.73 percent to 2589.30 rupees.

— Kuala Lumpur was flat, edging down 0.02 percent or 0.42 points to 1,889.97.

Axiata Group shed 0.1 percent to 6.98 ringgit, while Public Bank lost 0.6 percent to 19.90. Budget carrier AirAsia gained 2.7 percent to 2.27 ringgit.

— Singapore rose 0.52 percent, or 17.03 points, to close at 3,278.57.

Singapore Telecommunications rose 0.26 percent to SG$3.88 while Singapore Airlines gained 0.10 percent at SG$10.36.

— Wellington rose 0.50 percent, or 35.61 points, to 5,130.15.

Trade Me was up 1.16 percent at NZ$3.49 and Telecom added 0.19 percent to NZ$2.695.

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