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Article updated: 4/2/2013 7:17 AM

World stocks edge higher on US economy hopes

A man takes a picture of an electronic stock indicator in Tokyo, Japan, Tuesday.

A man takes a picture of an electronic stock indicator in Tokyo, Japan, Tuesday.

 

Associated Press

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By Associated Press

LONDON -- Stock markets mostly rose on Tuesday on hopes that improvements in the U.S. economy will make up for the continued gloom in the eurozone, where the unemployment rate hit a new record high.

Traders will keep an eye on data for U.S. factory orders later Tuesday in the run-up to Friday's release of the monthly jobs figures, a key measure of the health of the world's largest economy.

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The steady recovery in the U.S. has been supporting markets in the face of financial trouble in the 17-country eurozone, where the economy continues to wilt under the pressure of government budget cuts. Unemployment in the single currency bloc hit a record high in January and February, at 12 percent. Governments are trimming costs and companies are discouraged from hiring due to uncertainty in markets.

Cyprus was the focus of such financial uncertainty this month as it chaotically negotiated a bailout. Deep cuts to its banking sector are expected to cause a huge slump in the economy -- to ease the pain the country was granted more time to reach its budget targets.

By late morning in Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.8 percent to 6,465.73 while Germany's DAX rose 0.7 percent to 7,849.30. France's CAC-40 rose 0.6 percent to 3,754.26.

Wall Street also appeared headed for gains, with Dow Jones industrial futures rising 0.3 percent to 14,525. The broader S&P 500 futures gained 0.3 percent to 1,560.70.

Earlier, Japan's Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.1 percent to close at 12,003.43 as the yen's recent weakness reversed course. A stronger currency makes products sold abroad more expensive, a hardship for Japan's export-dependent economy.

Analysts said, however, that the new government in Japan, with its new plan of attack to right the country's economy, has lifted business optimism. A survey released by the Bank of Japan on Monday showed an improvement in business sentiment, although it was smaller than expected.

"The economy is improving, albeit slowly, and the mood has been lifted by the assertive and coordinated economic plan of the new government," Moody's Analytics said in a market commentary.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed 0.3 percent higher at 22,367.82.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.4 percent to 4,985.50. South Korea's Kospi opened higher but then gave up its gains by midday. It was 0.5 percent down at 1,986.15. Benchmarks in mainland China, the Philippines and New Zealand also fell.

In commodity markets, the benchmark oil contract for May delivery was up 8 cents to $97.15 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 16 cents on Monday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2838 from $1.2804 late Monday in New York. The dollar fell to 93.31 yen from 94.22 yen.

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