World stocks advance amid Greece hopes, China manufacturing news; oil tops $80 a barrel

By Jeremiah Marquez, AP
Monday, March 1, 2010

World stocks gain amid Greece hopes, China data

HONG KONG — Global stocks advanced Monday amid new hopes of a bailout for debt-ridden Greece and as slower Chinese manufacturing eased worries the government would accelerate steps to cool the world’s third-largest economy.

European shares opened up and major Asian markets posted their second day of gains. Oil climbed above $80 while copper prices shot higher after the devastating earthquake in Chile, the world’s biggest supplier. The dollar strengthened against the yen.

China said its purchasing managers index, a survey of manufacturers, indicated manufacturing activity expanded in February but at a lower rate than the previous month. The slower growth came as the government intensified efforts to curb overcapacity and inflation in its booming economy by preventing excessive bank lending.

Analysts said the slower pace of manufacturing helped calm investor concerns Beijing would soon introduce aggressive new measures to put the brakes on the economy.

“It’s a good sign. It suggests the economic activity is more sustainable, so this eases the fears of more control policies coming out in the short term,” said Linus Yip, a strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong.

Further boosting sentiment, analysts said, were reports over the weekend that German banks may buy Greek debt with the German government offering guarantees. Greece’s massive debts have rattled global markets in recent weeks over fears of financial contagion.

“The report gave hope that Greece and its European partners were working on concrete steps to help solve the nation’s debt problems,” said Masatoshi Sato, market analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities in Japan.

On Monday, Germany’s chancellor reiterated the country’s opposition to EU countries bailing out fellow euro zone member Greece, but she did not explicitly rule out state-owned banks buying bonds issued by Greece.

As trading started in Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.1 percent, Germany’s DAX gained 1.5 percent and France’s CAC-40 added 1.4 percent.

In Asia, the benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index advanced 46.03 points, or 0.5 percent, to 10,172.06.

In greater China, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng benchmark jumped 448.23, or 2.2 percent, to 21,056.93 and Shanghai’s market was up 35.09, or 1.2 percent, at 3,087.84.

Elsewhere, Singapore’s market rose 0.9 percent and Taiwan’s index climbed 1.9 percent.

Markets in South Korea, India and Thailand were closed.

Commodity firms got a lift after copper prices surged amid speculation the earthquake in Chile would significantly disrupt supplies. In Hong Kong, shares of Chinese producer Jiangxi Copper surged nearly 6 percent.

In oil, the benchmark contract rose 91 cents to $80.57 after adding $1.49 on Friday.

The dollar rose to 89.32 yen from 88.84 yen. The euro rose to $1.3628 from $1.3623.

Wall Street futures suggested U.S. stock would start the week on a positive note. S&P futures were up 6.8, or 0.6 percent, at 1,110.20.

Friday in the U.S., markets eked out a small gain.

The Dow rose 4.23, or less than 0.1 percent, to 10,325.26. It fell 0.7 percent for the week but rose 2.6 percent for the month.

The broader S&P 500 index rose 1.55, or 0.1 percent, to 1,104.49. It fell 0.4 percent for the week and climbed 2.9 percent in February.

Associated Press Writer Shino Yuasa contributed to this report from Tokyo.

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