Asia Stocks Surge, Europe Opens Lower After Oil Prices Rise

BEIJING (AP) -- Asian markets surged while Europe opened lower Thursday after oil prices recovered some of a decline the day before that had eased inflation fears.

Futures for Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.4% as Russian attacks on Ukraine intensified two weeks as fighting entered its third week.

Markets rallied Wednesday after oil plunged, but economists warned that was due to changes in futures contracts and other factors, not war developments. On Thursday, prices rebounded by nearly $6 per barrel in London and nearly $4 in New York.

Forecasters warned markets will stay volatile, as the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers were meeting in Turkey for negotiations.

"Markets seem to have latched onto a couple of slightly less dismal clues as an excuse to rally hard," said ING economists in a report. "The basis for that optimism -- it's actually pretty thin."

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London lost 0.6% to 7,146.60 and Frankfurt's DAX slipped 1.9% to 13,592.84. The CAC 40 tumbled 2% to 6,261.35.

The retreat came as the European Union statistics agency reported that inflation in the 19 countries that use the euro rose by an annual 5.8% in February, a record high for the fourth month in a row.

European economies import more Russian oil and gas and face a bigger potential shock from the war. That might prompt European governments to use more economic stimulus, which pushes up stock prices.

European stocks had rallied Wednesday even more than the U.S. market, with Germany's DAX jumping 7.9% and France's CAC 40 soaring 7.1%.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose 3.9% Thursday to 25,690.40 and the Shanghai Composite Index added 1.2% to 3,296.09. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 1.3% to 20,890.26.

The Kospi in Seoul jumped 2.2% to 2,680.32 as trading resumed after a day off for South Korea's presidential election.

South Korea's president-elect Yoon Suk Yeol said Thursday that he plans to strengthen the country's alliance with the United States, fortify the military and sternly handle North Korean provocations, hours after he won the country's hard-fought election to become its next leader.

Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 added 1.1% to 7,.130.80. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets also advanced.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $2.33 to $111.03 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged $15 to $108.70 on Wednesday. Brent crude, used as the international price basis, advanced $3.33 to $114.47 per barrel in London. It lost $16.84 the previous session to $111.14.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 rose 2.6% on Wednesday for its biggest daily gain in 12 years as prices swing wildly. The Dow added 2% and the Nasdaq composite gained 3.6%.

The war has wide implications for world markets and economies. Russia is the No. 2 global oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and the No. 3 supplier of nickel used in making electric car batteries and stainless steel. Russia and Ukraine are big wheat exporters.

The White House has banned imports of Russian crude to punish the Kremlin and the U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to support that.

The House also approved a massive spending bill Wednesday night that would rush $13.6 billion in U.S. aid to battered Ukraine and its European allies,

Ahead of Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, investors already were uneasy about plans by the Federal Reserve and other central banks to try to cool inflation by withdrawing ultra-low interest rates and other stimulus.

The Labor Department reported Wednesday that U.S. businesses added a near-record 11.3 million jobs in January. The trend is helping to push up wages and adds to inflationary pressures in the U.S. economy

Investors expect Fed policymakers to vote next week to raise its benchmark short-term rate by one-quarter of a percentage point. It would be the first such increase since 2018.

In currency markets, the dollar rose to 115.88 yen from Wednesday's 115.85 yen. The euro declined to $1.1043 from $1.1077.