Politics

Global stocks rise on stronger European growth

LONDON (AP) — Global stock markets pushed higher on Friday on news that Europe's economic recovery gathered some speed at the end of 2013.

The eurozone currency bloc saw its economy grow 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter, above expectations for 0.2 percent. That shows the recovery is getting a foothold, both in the larger economies like Germany and weaker ones like Italy. However, growth remains timid by historical standards and is unlikely to make a dent in the high unemployment rate.

"The eurozone has been proceeding slightly faster than expected," said Tom Rogers, senior economic adviser at EY. He nevertheless predicts that growth will not be any higher than a muted 1 percent in 2014.

Germany's DAX rose 0.7 percent to close at 9,662.40 while the CAC-40 in France gained 0.6 percent to 4,340.14. Britain's FTSE 100 index edged up 0.1 percent to 6,663.62. The FTSE MIB in Italy, which saw its first economic growth since 2011, rose a stronger 1.6 percent. The Milan index was also helped by an expected handover of power in the government, with a new prime minister expected to take over and give new momentum to structural reforms.

Wall Street likewise pushed higher, with the S&P 500 up 0.2 percent at 1,834.21 and the Dow 0.5 percent higher at 16,102.59. Investors looked past 0.8 percent plunge in factory production in January, as they were likely weighed by the harsh winter weather.

Earlier, in Asia, Chinese shares rose after a report showed the inflation rate was steady in January. Analysts said that will reduce concerns of an inflation spike for communist leaders as they try to deliver on ambitious promises of reforms aimed at making the economy more productive and keeping incomes rising.

China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.8 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.6 percent. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.7 percent. But Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 1.5 percent to 14,313.03 as the yen strengthened against the dollar, a negative for share prices of exporters.

In other markets, the benchmark U.S. crude contract for March delivery was down 34 cents at $100.01 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract eased 2 cents to close at $100.35 on Thursday.

In currency trading, the euro rose 0.1 percent to $1.3691 while the dollar fell 0.3 percent to 101.83 yen.

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