World stocks higher ahead of Obama jobs speech
World stock markets posted modest gains Thursday, although uncertainty about the health of the global economy kept investor enthusiasm in check ahead of President Barack Obama's jobs speech.
Benchmark oil fell below USD 89 a barrel while the dollar strengthened against the euro and the yen.
European shares were mostly higher in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 posted a 0.5 percent gain to 5,341.91. Germany's DAX rose 0.5 percent to 5,436.59 while France's CAC-40 bounded 0.9 percent higher to 3,102.
But US futures pointed to a lower opening on Wall Street. Dow futures sank 0.3 percent to 11,377 and S&P 500 futures were down 0.4 percent at 1,194.60.
Earlier in the day, Asian shares posted modest gains. Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.3 percent to close at 8,793.12 as a softening yen helped Japan's exporters. Nikon Corp. jumped 3.2 percent, while Sharp Corp. ended 2 percent higher.
South Korea's Kospi rose 0.7 percent to 1,846.64, benefiting from a decision by the country's central bank to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged for a third month. Higher interest rates generally drag on stocks by making them a potentially less attractive investment.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.7 percent to 19,912.82. Mainland Chinese shares also lost ground, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index shedding 0.7 percent to 2,498.94. The Shenzhen Composite Index lost 1 percent to 1,100.53. Shares in cement, building material, securities and engineering companies weakened.
Wall Street rose sharply Wednesday after a German court backed the country's role in bailing out smaller, debt-wracked European nations and Italy approved a controversial austerity package to stave off a budget and loan crisis of its own.
The European Central Bank had demanded stiff austerity measures from Italy, but it's not clear whether the package is sufficient. The ECB has spent billions over the last month buying up Italian government bonds to get Italy's borrowing costs lower and help it avoid becoming the next European nation to need an international bailout.