Global Shares Rise on Friday

TOKYO (AP) -- Global shares rose Friday, echoing a rally on Wall Street, as hopes grew for a gradual global economic recovery from the damage of the coronavirus pandemic.

France's CAC 40 rose 0.6% in early trading to 5,643.50, while Germany's DAX inched down less than 0.1% to 14,053.69. Britain's FTSE 100 was up nearly 0.1% to 6,508.33. U.S. shares were set to open higher, with Dow futures up nearly 0.2% at 31,002. S&P 500 futures were also up 0.2% at 3,872.38.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 surged 1.5% to finish at 28,779.19. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.1% to 6,840.50, and South Korea's Kospi climbed 1.1% to 3,120.63. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 0.6% to 29,279.74, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.2% to 3,496.33.

Asian markets got a lift from positive employment data from the U.S., which has set off a mood of “confidence about the U.S. economy getting back on its feet,” said Venkateswaran Lavanya of Mizuho Bank in Singapore.

An apparent sign in global data of a gradual decline in COVID-19 cases is also nurturing hopes for a rebound. So are rollouts of COVID-19 vaccines, Lavanya said.

Global investors are watching various company earnings reports. There is also optimism that Washington can reach a deal for another round of fiscal stimulus for millions of Americans.

Financial and technology companies led the way. Small-company stocks also had a strong showing, another bullish signal that investors are feeling more optimistic about the economy.

“There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic and, obviously, there's a tremendous amount of stimulus in the system with talks of more,” Brian Price, head of investment management for Commonwealth Financial Network.

In Washington, President Joe Biden urged Democrats lawmakers to “act fast” on his economic stimulus plan but also said he's open to changes. Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on support for President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package, but investors are betting that the administration will opt for a reconciliation process to get the legislation through Congress.

In economic data, the number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits fell below 800,000 last week, which was better than economist expectations but still remains high due to the pandemic. The Labor Department is due to report its jobs data for January on Friday.

In energy trading, U.S. benchmark crude added 30 cents to $56.53 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 54 cents to $56.23 per barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, the international standard, added 29 cents to $59.13 a barrel.

In currencies, the U.S. dollar was trading at 105.50 Japanese yen, down from 105.54 yen. The euro cost $1.1965, down from $1.1967.