Asia, EU Markets Higher Thursday

HONG KONG (AP) --- Most Asian and European shares rose and oil prices touched fresh multi-year highs on Thursday as improving optimism about the global economy helped investors shake off worries about geopolitical risks for the moment.

KEEPING SCORE: European shares were mostly higher in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent to 7,335.40 and France's CAC 40 edged 0.1 percent higher to 5,387.97. Germany's DAX slipped 0.1 percent to 12,577.06. Wall Street was poised to open slightly lower. Dow futures were less than 0.1 percent lower at 24,731.00 and broader S&P 500 futures dipped 0.1 percent to 2,707.70.

ASIAN SCORECARD: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.2 percent to 22,2191.18 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.3 percent to 2,486.10. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.4 percent to 30,708.44 and the Shanghai Composite in mainland China gained 0.8 percent to 3,117.38. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.3 percent to 5,881.00. Shares were higher in Taiwan and most of Southeast Asia.

GLOBAL ECONOMY: The Federal Reserve's latest beige book survey found the outlook for the world's No. 1 economy remains positive as growth continues at a moderate pace, though trade tensions with China are an increasing concern. Investors are also keeping an eye on corporate earnings. Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis reported first quarter net income jumped 12 percent on strong growth in some of its key drugs.

TRADE TENSIONS: President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said they agreed to start talks on a new "free, fair and reciprocal" trade agreement after two days of meetings in Florida. Abe failed to get the exemption from U.S. metal tariffs for Japan that he had hoped for but some analysts said the outcome signaled that Trump was taking a more conciliatory stance on trade. In Beijing, a Commerce Ministry spokesman said China hopes trade frictions with the U.S. won't escalate but that "China has prepared for all the possibilities."

MARKET INSIGHT: "I think overall sentiment today is continuing favorably as geopolitical risk diminishes, and perhaps we're starting to see a definite de-escalation from Trump's America First trade policy," after the Trump-Abe meeting, said Stephen Innes, head of Asian trading at OANDA.

CRESTING CRUDE: Oil prices are at their highest levels since late 2014 after the latest report on U.S. inventories found that crude stockpiles fell sharply in a sign of stronger than expected demand. News reports citing industry sources saying Saudi Arabia would be happy to see prices hit $100 a barrel are also helping lift the rally and shares of energy companies. Chinese oil producer CNOOC Ltd. jumped 4.4 percent and Sinopec, China's largest refiner, rose 2.4 percent in Hong Kong while Japan Petroleum Exploration advanced 2.6 percent.

ENERGY PRICES: Oil futures rose to their highest in nearly 3 years. Benchmark U.S. crude gained 76 cents to $69.23 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.95, or 2.9 percent, to settle at $68.47 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 42 cents to $74.38 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 107.34 yen from Wednesday's 107.24 yen. The euro slipped to $1.2372 from $1.2375.

(BE)