World Stocks Rally on US Recovery Hopes

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Global stock markets rallied Wednesday as solid U.S. housing sales data raised expectations for a strong recovery in the world's largest economy.

KEEPING SCORE: Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.6 percent to 6,257.11 while France's CAC gained 0.9 percent to 4,471.06. Germany's DAX advanced 1.2 percent to 10,176.89. Futures augured gains on Wall Street. Dow and S&P futures both rose 0.4 percent.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.6 percent to 16,757.35 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index jumped 2.7 percent to 20,368.05. South Korea's Kospi gained 1.2 percent to 1,960.51 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 1.5 percent to 5,372.50. Stocks in Taiwan, Singapore and Southeast Asia also gained.

U.S. RECOVERY: The U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday that new home sales leaped 16.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 619,000, the highest level since January 2008. Steady job gains and low mortgage rates have encouraged more Americans to buy new homes in a sign that the housing market and the broader economy are in good shape.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Such upbeat data have dissipated doubts concerning the recovery in the housing sector," Mizuho Bank said in a daily commentary. "While this strengthens expectations that the Fed may be more comfortable to raise (its) policy rate in summer, markets do not appear to be unsettled."

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 51 cents to $49.13 per barrel in New York. The contract finished 54 cents higher at $48.62 on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 45 cents to $49.06 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 110.15 yen from 110.06 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.1148 from $1.1143.

(KA)