World stocks gain on China stimulus hopes

TOKYO (AP) World stock markets mostly rose Friday as expectations grew that China will move to counter its economic slowdown.

European markets opened on an upbeat note, with Britain's FTSE 100 adding 0.4 percent to 6,611.36. Germany's DAX index jumped 0.7 percent to 9,512.57, while France's CAC 40 rose 0.3 percent to 4,393.37.

Futures augured gains on Wall Street. Dow futures rose 0.3 percent to 16,223 and S&P 500 futures gained 0.3 percent to 1,846.70.

In Asia, window dressing ahead of the fiscal year's end helped Japanese shares rebound from early losses after the government reported household spending fell in February, suggesting consumer demand is not rising as much as expected ahead of an April 1 sales tax hike.

Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.5 percent to close at 14,696.03. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.2 percent to 1,981.

Expectations have been rising for more stimulus in China as growth has slowed to its weakest since the financial crisis. Officials have set a target of 7.5 percent economic growth this year but are more concerned about ensuring sufficient new jobs are created than precisely meeting the GDP figure.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 1.1 percent to 22,065.53. The Shanghai Composite fell 0.2 percent to 2,041.71 as major banks reported profits in line with analysts' forecasts.

In currency trading, the euro fell to $1.3726 from $1.3741 late Thursday. The dollar rose to 102.31 yen from 102.14 yen late Thursday.

A barrel of benchmark New York oil gained 24 cents to $101.52, compared to the previous close of $101.28, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.