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Friday February 12th, 2016 9:40PM

World stocks mostly higher on US optimism

By The Associated Press
HONG KONG (AP) -- World stock markets mostly rose Monday on investor optimism about the U.S. economy, hints from China about further stimulus and weakness in the yen.

Markets in Asia were supported by Friday's Commerce Department report that new home sales rose 6.4 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted 433,000 after falling in the previous two months. Demand for new homes has been one of the last missing pieces as the U.S. economy, the world's largest, recovers from the global financial crisis.

Investors were also heartened after the Standard & Poor's 500 finished 0.4 percent higher at 1,900.53, the first time it has ended above the 1,900 level.

Remarks by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that suggested Beijing is preparing further mini-stimulus measures to support the economy gave a lift to Chinese shares.

Li said appropriate policy tools and timely fine tuning are being prepared as the world's second biggest economy continues to face "relatively big" downward pressure, the state-run China Daily newspaper said Saturday, citing a speech Li gave on Thursday.

"There seems to be a growing view among Western strategists that while Chinese authorities will keep monetary policy steady, they are starting to look at fairly targeted support for the economy," said Chris Weston, chief strategist at IG Markets in Melbourne.

Trading was lighter than usual, with markets in the U.S. and Britain closed for holidays. In early European trading, Germany's DAX rose 1 percent to 9,860.38 and France's CAC 40 was up 0.4 percent to 4,509.71.

Japan's Nikkei 225 benchmark rose 1 percent to close at 14,602.52 as the dollar strengthened against the yen, rising briefly above 102 yen in early trading before easing to 101.92. A weaker yen means the electronics, cars and other goods made by Japan's exporting giants such as Nikon, Sony and Honda are cheaper for overseas buyers.

The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3 percent to close at 2,041.48 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended flat 22,963.18. South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.3 percent to 2,010.35 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.4 percent to 5,512.80.

The euro rose to $1.3644 from $1.3630.

In energy markets, oil prices fell. Benchmark crude for July delivery was down 21 cents to $104.14 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 61 cents to settle at $104.35 on Friday.
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