Global Stocks Eke Out Small Gains

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Global stock markets made modest gains on Thursday with few data reports to move them, as investors watched tax reform developments in the U.S. after President Donald Trump's firing of FBI chief James Comey. Oil prices extended gains.

KEEPING SCORE: Britain's FTSE remained almost unchanged at 7,384.62 while France's CAC 40 edged up less than 0.1 percent to 5,401.82. Germany's DAX was also nearly flat at 12,763.09. Futures augured a weak start on Wall Street. Dow futures lost 0.1 percent while S&P futures also dipped 0.1 percent.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.3 percent to 19,961.55 and South Korea's Kospi jumped 1.2 percent to 2,296.37, its new high. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index advanced 0.4 percent to 25,125.55. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.1 percent to 5,878.30. Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3 percent to 3,061.50. Stocks in Taiwan, Singapore and Southeast Asia were higher.

ANALYST'S VIEWPOINT: "Trump's decision to fire FBI director Comey continues to reverberate, with markets uncertain whether this could distract the government from its tax reform agenda," said Mizuho Bank in a daily report.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude added 65 cents to $47.98 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after surging $1.45, or 3.2 percent, to $47.33 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 67 cents to $50.88 per barrel in London after closing up $1.49, or 3.1 percent, at $50.22 in the previous session. The price of U.S. crude oil jumped as reports showed U.S. crude stockpiles dropped by 5.2 million barrels last week, bigger than analysts expected.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 114.16 yen from 114.29 yen. The euro rose to $1.0875 from $1.0868.