Asia stocks rise ahead of ECB meeting

Asian stock markets rose Thursday, buoyed by expectations that the European Central Bank will announce a plan to support financially struggling countries in the eurozone.

ECB President Mario Draghi is expected to reveal on Thursday the details of a new bond-buying program intended to bring down the high borrowing costs of Spain and Italy. The plan is reportedly expected to pledge an unlimited amount of bond purchases while offering no explicit target for where bond yields should be.

"It won't save Europe but it will keep Spanish yields and Italian yields down for now and give Europe's leaders another 3-6 months to come up with bigger and better plans for a real solution," said analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore.

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose marginally to 8,681.68. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.1 percent to 19,169.98. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.7 percent to 1,887.62. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.9 percent to 4.318.50.

On Wall Street, U.S. stock prices closed mixed, held in check by a warning from the huge package delivery company FedEx that its profits would be hurt because of a slowdown in the global economy. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 0.1 percent at 13,047.48.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.1 percent to 1,403.44. The Nasdaq composite index lost 0.2 percent to 3,069.27.

Investors are also looking ahead to Friday's U.S. payrolls data for signs of life in the world's largest economy. Continued signs of weakness in the U.S. economy may help persuade the Federal Reserve to announce new action after its meeting next week.

Benchmark oil for October delivery rose 69 cents to $96.05 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 6 cents to finish at $95.36 per barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2612 from $1.2599 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar fell to 78.39 yen from 78.41 yen.

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