World Stocks Higher in Quiet Trade

HONG KONG (AP) -- Most world stock markets advanced Tuesday in light trading after China's leaders held out the hope of more stimulus to combat weakness in the world's No. 2 economy.

KEEPING SCORE: European stocks were mostly higher in early trading, with Britain's FTSE 100 index rising 0.6 percent to 6,070.66 while Germany's DAX gained 0.3 percent to 10,530.46. France's CAC 40 edged up 0.1 percent to 4,566.09. U.S. stocks were poised for a flat open, with Dow futures practically unchanged at 17,178.00 and broader S&P 500 futures steady at 2,015.00.

CHINA ECONOMY: Leaders in Beijing wrapped up their annual planning meeting Monday with renewed promises to promote economic growth. The Chinese government said it would be more proactive and flexible when it comes to using fiscal and monetary policy in order to keep growth in a "proper range," the official Xinhua news agency said, citing an official statement. That's raised hopes among some investors that Beijing will take more steps to support flagging growth in the world's No. 2 economy.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "There is one word that seems to be directing the markets in quiet pre-Christmas trade: China," Angus Nicholson of IG wrote in a commentary. "The pause in the devaluation of the renminbi and announcements of further fiscal and monetary easing from the Central Economic Work Conference have been moving equities and currencies upwards."

ASIAN SCORECARD: Regional benchmarks spent the early part of the day in negative territory before closing higher. The exception was Japan's Nikkei 225, which finished 0.2 percent lower at 18,918.31. South Korea's Kospi climbed 0.6 percent to 1,992.56 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2 percent to 21,830.02. The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China added 0.3 percent to 3,651.77 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 crept up 0.2 percent to 5,116.60. Indexes in Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and New Zealand also gained.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil futures climbed 33 cents to $36.15 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 25 cents to settle at $35.81 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, was up 27 cents to $36.62 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.0923 from $1.0909 in the previous day's trading. The dollar slipped to 121.00 yen from 121.10 yen.

(KA)