China leads Asian stocks higher, Europe gains


MUMBAI, India (AP) — Asian and European stock markets mostly posted gains Wednesday led by a surge in Chinese stocks and in anticipation of a raft of British economic data.

The Shanghai Composite jumped 2.2 percent to 2,147.14 after the central bank promised extra liquidity in the financial system the previous day, apparently outweighing news that China's growth was down slightly from the previous quarter.

Japan's Nikkei, the regional heavyweight, gained 0.2 percent to 15,820.96 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.2 percent to 23,082.25. South Korea's Kospi was down 0.3 percent at 1,970.42 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.2 percent to 5,319.80. India's Sensex added 0.2 percent.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of major British stocks gained 0.4 percent to 6,862.04 and Germany's DAX inched up 0.2 percent to 9,750.76. The CAC-40 in France added 0.3 percent to 4,335.35. Wall Street was set for an indifferent open with Dow futures slightly lower and S&P 500 futures a shade higher.

"The major bourses are in for a firmer start as they ride the momentum from Asian trade," strategist Stan Shamu of IG Markets said in a report.

He said a raft of British economic data due later would be significant for markets. "Any indications of further strength in the UK economy could see the pound continue its run."

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was up 67 cents at $95.67 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3539 from $1.3561 late Tuesday. The dollar rose to 104.39 yen from 104.29 yen.