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World stock markets up on US corporate cues

BANGKOK (AP) — Deals by cash-rich corporations and strong earnings out of the U.S. helped propel world markets higher Wednesday, while inflation data from China suggested its tightening measures may be having some effect.

Oil prices hovered below $104 a barrel after a report showed U.S. crude supplies rose more than expected last week. In currencies, the dollar was down against the yen and the euro.

In early European trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.1 percent to 6,011.34, while Germany’s DAX rose 0.4 percent to 7,535.08. France’s CAC-40 added 0.2 percent to 4,058.42. U.S. futures pointed toward a higher Wall Street opening, with Dow futures up 12 points to 12,712 and S&P futures 1.4 points higher to 1,355.20.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.5 percent to close at 9,864.26. Toyota Motor Corp. rose 0.6 percent after the company, whose operations were disrupted by parts shortages after Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami, said efforts to fix production were going better than initially expected.

The quake and tsunami have sorely hurt Toyota, which is expected to lose its spot as the world’s top-selling automaker to General Motors Co. this year because of the disasters.

South Korea’s Kospi index climbed 1.3 percent to 2,166.63, with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. soaring 8 percent after winning a deal to build an ultra-deep water drill ship for U.S.-based Vantage Drilling Co. at an estimated cost of $580 million to $590 million.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 0.2 percent to 23,291.80, with airline shares tumbling as oil prices stabilized above $100 a barrel. China Eastern Airlines Corp. Ltd. lost 2.7 percent. Air China Ltd. lost 2.8 percent.

Oil prices have swung sharply since the beginning of May, dropping 15 percent last week before rebounding about 6 percent so far this week, helping to boost oil-related shares. PetroChina Co. Ltd., the publicly traded unit of China’s biggest oil and gas company, rose 1.3 percent.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 1.2 percent to 4,780.20. Benchmarks in Singapore, Indonesia and New Zealand were also higher.

Chinese markets were mixed after the country’s national statistics bureau released figures showing inflation had eased slightly but still remained higher than expected. Consumer prices in April rose 5.3 percent over a year earlier, driven by an 11.5 percent jump in food costs.

Persistently high inflation has led the People’s Bank of China to hike interest rates and take other measures to reduce the amount of money sloshing around the economy. The latest inflation figures could put additional pressure on the central bank to keep controls on lending and liquidity — resulting in less money to put into stocks.

The mainland Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.3 percent to 2,883.42 while the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index rose 0.2 percent to 1,212.27.

“Maybe inflation has peaked, so you can say it’s a little bit of good news for the market,” said Francis Lun, a Hong Kong-based analyst. But he said investors remained concerned that Beijing will introduce “more tightening measures to cool the property market and lower inflation.”

On Wall Street, news that Microsoft Inc. would buy Internet telephone service Skype for $8.5 billion in cash signaled that companies were starting to spend — buoying confidence that stocks would continue to rise.

The Skype purchase would be Microsoft’s largest in its 36-year history. It follows AT&T Inc.’s announcement in March that it would buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion and Johnson & Johnson’s $21.3 billion deal announced last month to acquire Synthes, a maker of medical instruments and implants.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.6 percent to close at 12,760.36. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.8 percent to 1,357.16. The Nasdaq composite index gained 1 percent to 2,871.89.

Benchmark crude for June delivery was down 23 cents to $103.65 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.33 to settle, or 1.3 percent, at $103.88 on Tuesday.

The euro was slightly up at $1.4390 from $1.4388 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar weakened to 80.74 yen from 80.78 yen.

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