World stock markets rebound after 2 days of losses linked to Fed, economy jitters

BEIJING, China – World stocks mostly rebounded Friday from two days of doldrums sparked by fears the Federal Reserve would withdraw monetary stimulus. European markets were helped by a better-than-expected German business confidence survey.

The Asian heavyweight, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index, opened down but recovered to gain 0.7 per cent to 11,385.94. In the region’s biggest economy, China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.5 per cent to 2,314.15.

In Europe, France’s CAC-40 was up 1.3 per cent at 3,670.74 and Germany’s DAX gained 0.7 per cent to 7,63.71. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.8 per cent to 6,344.30. Sentiment was helped by Germany’s IFO business survey that further eased fears of recession in Europe’s biggest economy.

Wall Street was set to gain. Dow futures added 0.3 per cent to 13,906 and S&P 500 futures rose 0.4 per cent to 1,506.70.

In Asia, Seoul’s Kospi gained 0.2 per cent to 2,018.89. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.5 per cent to 22,782.44 and Taipei’s Taiex lost 0.1 per cent to 7,947.72. Australia’s ASX/S&P 200 added 0.8 per cent to 5,018.10.

World markets had been rattled by Wednesday’s release of notes from the Fed’s last policy meeting that suggested some policymakers were worried about the cost of its monetary stimulus. That sparked concern the Fed might wind down asset purchases, though some analysts suggested such fears were overblown.

On Thursday, the Labor Department reported the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose 20,000 last week to 362,000 but said longer-term, the job market appears to be improving.

Benchmark crude for April delivery was up 43 cents to $93.26 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $2.24, or 2.4 per cent, to $92.98 on Thursday, the second drop of 2 per cent in two days.

In currency markets, the dollar rose to 93.39 yen from 93.26 yen late Thursday. The euro rose to $1.323.