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China manufacturing data lifts stocks as Fed looms

LONDON (AP) — World stock markets rose modestly Monday following a fairly strong Chinese manufacturing survey — but trading was subdued as investors waited to see how much additional monetary easing the Federal Reserve might deliver at its meeting later this week.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 27.69 points, or 0.5 percent, at 5,702.85 while Germany’s DAX rose 8.69 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,610.06. The CAC-40 in France was less than a point higher at 3,833.90.

Wall Street was poised for a modest advance at the open later, with Dow futures up 59 points, or 0.5 percent, at 11,125 and the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 futures 6.8 points, or 0.6 percent, ahead at 1,186.50.

“With that Fed meeting looming large, it seems unlikely that anyone is going to be willing to make any serious commitment in either direction over the next couple of days,” said Ben Critchley, sales trader at IG Index.

This intensely busy week for markets started off with a solid Chinese survey, which showed the manufacturing sector growing as spending on infrastructure spurred orders for new equipment.

The state-affiliated China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its purchasing managers index, or PMI, rose to 54.7 in October from 53.8 September and 51.7 in August. Monthly readings have stayed above 50, the benchmark for expansion, for 20 straight months.

The survey failed to excite investors too much given the scale of potential of top-tier economic news this week — the key release later Monday will be the Institute for Supply Management’s monthly survey into the U.S. manufacturing sector.

As well as meetings of the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan, investors will have to digest the outcome of Tuesday’s Congressional elections in the U.S. The week culminates with the monthly U.S. nonfarm payrolls data for October, which often set the stock market tone for a week or two after their release.

Still, all those events are likely to play second fiddle to the Fed’s expected announcement on Wednesday that it is ease monetary policy further given subdued U.S. inflation levels and elevated unemployment.

Though figures last week showed the U.S. economy grew at a slightly faster than anticipated annualized rate of 2 percent in the third quarter, it’s still not enough to bring down unemployment, which is hovering near 10 percent to the frustration of the Obama administration.

If opinion polls are correct, then President Barack Obama will have to work with a Republican-dominated House of Representatives at the very least — many think that’s a recipe for policy inaction over the coming two years before the next presidential elections, meaning that the Fed will have to play an even more crucial role in sustaining the U.S. economy.

“The burden to stimulate the U.S. economy currently falls heavily on the Fed with U.S. politics in a state of paralysis heading into the mid-term elections,” said Lee Hardman, an analyst at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

The Fed is expected to announce that it is to enact another round of quantitative easing, whereby it buys more financial assets to increase the supply of money in the economy and drive down rates on mortgages, corporate loans and other debt in the ultimate hope of boosting economic activity and supporting prices.

The question is how much it is planning to splash out on this, with most analysts expecting the central bank to announce monthly purchases of around $100 billion a month over the next six months.

Anything more than that could well hurt the dollar even more — though the prospect of more dollars in the financial system has been a boon to stocks over the last few weeks, the dollar has tanked.

By late morning London time, the euro was 0.1 percent lower on the day at $1.3953 while the dollar was 0.2 percent ahead at 80.44 yen, having earlier fallen to a fresh 15-year low of 80.25 yen.

Earlier, most Asian markets advanced, with Chinese shares rebounding on the back of the strong manufacturing data — the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index climbed 2.5 percent, or 75.19 points, to 3,054.02 while the Shenzhen Composite Index of China’s smaller, second market jumped 2.9 percent to 1,341.84.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 2.4 percent to 23,652.94 and South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.7 percent to 1,914.74. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.8 percent to 4,698.50.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average bucked the trend, falling 0.5 percent to close at 9,154.72 as the yen’s ontinued rise against the dollar sapped confidence in the country’s potential to export its way to growth.

Benchmark crude for December delivery was up 71 cents at $82.14 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Associated Press Writer Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.

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