Global Stocks Rise Friday 03/31 05:05

Global Stocks Rise Friday              03/31 05:05

   Global stocks and Wall Street futures rose Friday ahead of a United States 
inflation update that traders hope might prompt the Federal Reserve to ease 
plans for more interest rate hikes.

   BEIJING (AP) -- Global stocks and Wall Street futures rose Friday ahead of a 
United States inflation update that traders hope might prompt the Federal 
Reserve to ease plans for more interest rate hikes.

   London and Frankfurt opened higher. Shanghai and Tokyo advanced. Oil prices 

   Wall Street rose Thursday as worries about the global financial system eased 
following the collapse of two U.S. banks and one in Switzerland.

   Traders hope a measure of U.S. inflation due out Friday that is closely 
watched by the Federal Reserve will show upward pressure on prices easing. That 
might prompt the Fed to postpone plans for a possible rate hike at its May 

   A softer inflation reading would be a "signal to continue with the risk-on 
theme," said Tim Waterer of Kohle Capital Markets in a report.

   Inflation in the 20 countries that use the euro slowed to 6.9% in March from 
8.5% the month before. Food costs are still on the rise, but energy prices 
fell, making a sharp turnaround after months of punishing increases, according 
to data released Friday by the European Union's statistics agency, Eurostat.

   In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London gained 0.2% to 7,634.76. The DAX in 
Frankfurt rose 0.2% to 15,545.50 and the CAC 40 in Paris advanced 0.3% to 

   On Wall Street, futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones 
Industrial Average were up less than 0.1%.

   On Thursday, the S&P 500 index rose 0.6%. The Dow gained 0.4% and the Nasdaq 
composite added 0.7%.

   In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.4% to 3,272.86 after an 
official survey showed China's factory activity grew at a slower pace in March 
but was stronger than expected following the end of anti-virus restrictions. 
The Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.4% to 20,400.11.

   The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo advanced 0.9% to 28,041.48 after government data 
showed factory output rebounded and retail sales rose in February.

   The Kospi in Seoul added 1% to 2,476.86 after government data showed factory 
output declined 3.2% from the previous month in February. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 
was 0.8% higher at 7,177.80.

   India's Sensex advanced 1.7% to 58,954.14. New Zealand and Jakarta declined 
while Singapore and Bangkok advanced.

   Traders were rattled by this month's bank failures but regulators appear to 
have calmed fears by promising lending measures if needed to keep other 
institutions stable after repeated rate hikes caused prices of bonds and other 
assets on their books to fall.

   Markets have shifted focus back to uncertainty about the global economic 
outlook as the Fed and other central banks try to extinguish inflation. Prices 
for some commodities have softened and increases in many countries have slowed, 
but inflation remains a threat to stability in many emerging markets.

   On Friday, Egypt's central bank raised interest rates as the continues 
battles surging prices and a depreciating currency. The most basic lending rate 
increased to 18.25% from 16.25% to help quash spiraling inflation, which hit a 
32.9% annual rate in February.

   Traders have begun betting the Fed will be forced to cut rates as early as 
mid-year to shore up economic growth. That is despite statements by Fed 
officials that they plan to raise rates one more time before holding them 
steady into at least early 2024.

   The Fed's key lending rate stands at a range of 4.75% to 5%, up from close 
to zero at the start of last year.

   A report Thursday showed slightly more U.S. workers applied for unemployment 
benefits last week than expected. That could be a sign of increased layoffs, 
but the number is low compared with historical levels.

   The government also revised down its estimate of U.S. economic growth in the 
final quarter of 2022 but still showed growth.

   In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude shed 35 cents to $74.02 per barrel 
in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 
$1.40 on Thursday to $74.37. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil 
trading, lost 57 cents to $78.03 per barrel in London. It advanced 99 cents the 
previous session to $79.27.

   The dollar gained to 133.29 yen from Thursday's 132.47 yen. The euro 
declined to $1.0884 from $1.0904.

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