World stocks rise on higher Japan growth, US jobs

ELAINE KURTENBACH

TOKYO (AP) — 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.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 0.3 percent to 15,124. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.7 percent to 23,117.47 while South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.3 percent to 1,990.04. China's Shanghai Composite Index was little changed at 2,030.50.

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.

Markets in Southeast Asia were mostly higher. Australia's stock exchange was closed for a public holiday.

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.

In energy markets, U.S. crude for July delivery rose 41 cents to $103.07 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract closed Friday up 18 cents at $102.66.

The euro fell to $1.3635 from $1.3643 late Friday. The dollar inched down to 102.45 yen from 102.54 yen.