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World stock markets rise after strong US earnings

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BANGKOK — World stock markets rose Wednesday after earnings from Apple Inc. and other US companies blew past expectations, providing a distraction from the economic and political turbulence intensifying in Europe over its debt crisis.

European stocks rose in early trading. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.5 percent to 5,738.53. Germany’s DAX jumped 1.2 percent to 6,666.65 and France’s CAC-40 gained 1.4 percent to 3,213.33.

Wall Street was headed for a higher opening, with Dow Jones industrial futures rising 0.5 percent to 12,027. S&P 500 futures climbed 0.7 percent to 1,379.50.

The gains in Europe were stronger than those seen earlier in Asia. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1 percent to close at 9,561.01, but South Korea’s Kospi fell marginally to 1,961.98.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.2 percent to 20,646.29 and the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.8 percent to 2,406.81.

Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines also rose. The New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges were closed for public holidays.

US corporate earnings propelled the Dow Jones industrial average higher Tuesday.

Apple again proved skeptics wrong by reporting blowout iPhone sales. The world’s most valuable company sold 35 million iPhones in January through March, nearly twice as many as in the same period a year earlier. By beating expectations on iPhone sales, Apple sailed past analyst earnings and revenue forecasts as well.

AT&T also reported first-quarter results that beat Wall Street expectations, while Verizon — AT&T’s main rival — was close behind. 3M rose sharply after delivering an impressive quarterly report. Candy maker Hershey Co. said its first-quarter profit rose 24 percent on higher prices and cost cutting.

That was enough to overshadow the collapse of the Dutch government Monday after it failed to agree on cutting its budget deficit to meet European Union limits. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy risks being turned out of office in next month’s election for his support of austerity measures intended to extricate Europe from its lingering debt crisis.

Traders remained vigilant ahead of the release Friday of U.S. growth figures for the first three months of 2012, said Lee Kok Joo, head of research at Phillip Securities in Singapore.

“Apple gave a very good result and that boosted confidence,” he said. “But we are still looking for the US GDP estimate on Friday and just waiting to see the direction of the US economy.”

Analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said trading was likely to be “restrained” before the end of a two-day Federal Reserve policy meeting later Wednesday and the release of the Fed’s latest assessment of the U.S. economy.

“There will likely be small adjustments to the Fed’s economic projections, including lower unemployment and higher near-term inflation,” the analysts wrote in an email. “There is little sentiment for additional stimulus at the current time.”

In South Korea, Lotte Shopping Co. fell 0.7 percent after its Lotte Mart supermarket chain halted sales of U.S. beef because of the discovery of mad cow disease in a U.S. dairy cow.

Benchmark oil for June delivery was up 58 cents to $104.13 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 44 cents to settle at $103.55 in New York on Tuesday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3208 from $1.3189 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar slipped to 81.13 yen from 81.26 yen.


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