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March 10, 2010 > World stocks extend gains on upbeat US jobs news

World stocks extend gains on upbeat US jobs news

By Pan Pylas, AP Business Writer

LONDON (AP), Mar 05 - World stock markets rose sharply Friday after better than expected U.S. jobs data reassured investors that the recovery in the world's largest economy remains on track.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 72.60 points, or 1.3 percent, at 5,599.76, while Germany's DAX rose 82.04 points, or 1.4 percent, to 5,877.36. The CAC-40 in France ended 82.01 points, or 2.1 percent, higher at 3,910.42.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 85.93 points, or 0.8 percent, at 10,530.07 around midday New York time, while the broader Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 11.10 points, or 1 percent, to 1,134.07.

The buying momentum was fueled by the news that the U.S. unemployment rate held at 9.7 percent in February as employers shed fewer jobs than expected - the consensus in the markets was for a rise to 9.8 percent.

The Labor Department also said employers shed 36,000 jobs, below analysts' expectations of 50,000.

``The upshot was a fresh injection of confidence all round,'' said David Jones, chief market strategist at IG Index.

The monthly payrolls data, which often set the stock market tone for a week or two following their release, also contributed to big dollar gains against the yen, as investors priced in a greater probability that the U.S. Federal Reserve will start raising borrowing costs sooner than predicted.

Against the euro, the dollar fared less well as the single European currency continued to be supported by relief that Thursday's euro5 billion ($6.8 billion) bond auction in Greece ran smoothly.

``With the dollar being treated as the anti-euro, expect the dollar to be driven more by European news than by U.S. economic fundamentals in the coming week,'' said Michael Woolfolk, senior currency strategist at Bank of New York Mellon.

The bond auction has reined in market expectations that a meeting later between Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will yield anything substantially new apart from ongoing vocal support for the Greek government's latest batch of austerity measures, announced on Wednesday.

Ahead of the meeting, the euro was up 0.3 percent at $1.3617 while the dollar was 1.6 percent firmer at 90.43 yen.

Earlier in Asia, speculation that Japan was mulling extra measures to shore up its recovery added to the upbeat mood. According to a media report, the Bank of Japan might ease monetary policies to keep money flowing through the economy as soon as this month.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average jumped 223.24 points, or 2.2 percent, to 10,368.96.

``Investors welcomed the (Bank of Japan) report,'' said Kazuhiro Takahashi, equity strategist at Daiwa SMBC Securities Co. Ltd. ``Investors were speculating that further easing could help the yen weaken.''

A soft yen helps Japanese exporters by boosting the value of their repatriated profits and making their goods more competitively priced abroad.

In greater China, Hong Kong's market rose 1 percent to 20,787.97 and Shanghai's market gained 0.3 percent to 3,031.06 as investors focused on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's annual policy address.

Wen promised strong growth this year, 8 percent, and said the government will combat inflation and risks to banks to maintain the economy's recovery. While the annual hike in spending increase would be halved, the government would ensure stimulus and easy credit continue because the basis of renewed global growth is still weak, he said.

Elsewhere, South Korea's Kospi was up 1 percent at 1,634.57. Markets in Taiwan and Singapore gained as well.

Oil prices tracked equities higher, with benchmark crude for April delivery up $1.53 at $81.74.

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AP Business Writer Jeremiah Marquez in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

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