World stocks rise as US jobs picture improves

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By PAMELA SAMPSON, Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) — World stock markets rose Monday, boosted by stronger-than-expected U.S. hiring for July following three months of weak job gains.

Investors scooped up shares on news that the pace of hiring in the world's biggest economy was improving and were also heartened by a softening of Italy's and Spain's sovereign bond yields — a sign of less worry about those economies. That helped dispel fears that the 17-nation euro currency union could face a breakup as it wrestles with a massive debt crisis.

"I think people are no longer worried that the eurozone will collapse, so confidence has returned to the market," said Francis Lun, managing director of Lyncean Holdings in Hong Kong.

European stock markets rose in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 was almost 0.1 percent higher at 5,792.45. Germany's DAX added 0.5 percent to 6,898.32 and France's CAC-40 rose 0.2 percent to 3,381.39.

Wall Street appeared set for a slightly higher opening. Dow Jones industrial futures were marginally higher at 13,062 and S&P 500 futures gained 0.2 percent to 1,390.90.

A weekend statement by the People's Bank of China indicating it would intensify policy fine-tuning also helped investment sentiment by raising hopes for more monetary easing, analysts said.

"It seems that policy focus in China has indeed shifted quite dramatically towards supporting growth," Dariusz Kowalczyk at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in a market commentary.

That was among factors helping to lead Asian stock markets sharply higher.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 2 percent to finish at 8,726.29 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 1.7 percent to 19,998.72. South Korea's Kospi added 2 percent to 1,885.88 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was 1.2 percent higher at 4,272.60.

Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines also rose. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index gained 1 percent to 2,154.92.

"Markets might keep on rising in the short term due to investor expectations of more positive policies, while economic data that will be released later this week could be getting better," said Zhang Yang, an analyst at Sinolink Securities, based in Shanghai.

Japanese export-reliant vehicle makers were among the session's big gainers. Isuzu Motors Ltd. surged 6.4 percent and Mazda Motor Corp. jumped 5.6 percent.

Beer and beverage maker Kirin Holdings Co. added 3.6 percent. But Sharp Corp. fell 5.7 percent, days after the struggling electronics maker announced it would slash 5,000 jobs over the next year amid tumbling sales.

Energy companies also posted solid gains. Japanese energy explorer Inpex Corp. rose 4.1 percent while Hong Kong-listed China National Offshore Oil Corp., or CNOOC, added 2.1 percent.

Among Australian mining companies, Rio Tinto Ltd. Rose 4.1 percent. Fortescue Metals rose 1.9 percent after it announced it had secured $1.5 billion in new funding for the expansion of its flagship iron ore operations in Western Australia.

On Friday, a closely watched government report said 163,000 jobs were added in the U.S. last month, an improvement following three months of sluggish hiring. Between April and June, the economy added an average of just 75,000 jobs a month compared with 226,000 jobs per month in the first three months of the year.

Still, the gains weren't enough to bring down the unemployment rate, which rose to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent in June.

Benchmark crude was down 27 cents at $91.15 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract vaulted $4.27 on Friday to settle at $91.40 in New York.

In currencies, the euro fell slightly to $1.2376 from $1.2377 late Friday in New York. The dollar fell to 78.42 yen from 78.59 yen.

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AP researcher Fu Ting contributed from Shanghai.

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