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Article updated: 1/28/2013 6:49 AM

World stocks drift ahead of U.S. indicators

By

BANGKOK -- World stock markets drifted Monday as investors awaited the release of key data this week for a clearer picture of the strength of the U.S. economic recovery.

European stocks barely budged in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 nudged less than 2 points higher at 6,258.88. Germany's DAX fell 0.1 percent to 7,853.55. France's CAC-40 also slipped about 0.1 percent to 3,775.14.

Wall Street appeared headed for a day of trade without drama. Dow Jones industrial futures rose less than 0.1 percent to 13,818. S&P 500 futures were nearly unchanged at 1,495.80.

Asian stock markets posted slight gains Monday after strong U.S. earnings pushed Wall Street indexes to multi-year highs on Friday, though Japan's Nikkei dipped amid profit-taking.

The U.S. is due to report durable goods and pending home sales for December later in the day, but the numbers would have to sharply disappoint to dampen enthusiasm for stocks, analysts said. Fourth quarter growth data is due later in the week.

"The heavy slate of U.S. data releases this week will keep markets busy but overall we see little to dent the positive tone to risk assets over coming sessions," Mitul Kotecha of Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong wrote in a market commentary.

The Nikkei in Tokyo opened higher but then slipped 0.9 percent to close at 10,824.31 as investors cashed in shares following strong gains. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.4 percent to 23,671.88. Mainland Chinese shares ended higher, with the Shanghai Composite Index jumping 2.4 percent to 2,346.51. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index gained 2.5 percent to 932.61.

Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and the Philippines also rose.

South Korea's Kospi fell 0.4 percent to 1,939.71, dragged down by Samsung Electronics, the world's No. 1 smartphone maker, which plunged 3.2 percent after Friday saying the strong won would hurt earnings this year. Steelmaker POSCO lost 3 percent.

Australian markets were closed for a public holiday.

On Friday, the Standard and Poor's 500 index closed above 1,500 for the first time in more than five years after good earnings reports from Starbucks and Procter & Gamble, the world's largest consumer products maker.

"Wall Street performed pretty well, that has helped overall sentiment," said Jackson Wong, vice president of Tanrich Securities in Hong Kong.

Banking stocks did well on the back of a European Central Bank statement Friday that banks in the region were expected to pay back emergency loans faster than previously expected, increasing confidence that Europe's debt crisis is easing.

Hong Kong-listed Bank of China Ltd. rose 0.8 percent. South Korea's Shinhan Financial Group gained 4.1 percent.

Benchmark oil for March delivery was down 1 cent to $95.87 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 7 cents to close at $95.88 in trading on the Nymex. It ended the week with a gain of 32 cents.

In currencies, the euro slipped to $1.3430 from $1.3467 late Friday in New York. The dollar fell to 90.61 yen from 90.98 yen. The euro rose to an 11-month high against the dollar Friday after the ECB announcement.

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