Global Stocks Mostly Rise Thursday

TOKYO (AP) -- Global shares mostly rose Thursday amid expectations for more U.S. interest rate cuts this year.

France's CAC 40 added 0.4% in early trading to 8,184.47, while Germany's DAX edged up 0.3% to 18,413.33. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.4% to 7,967.83. U.S. shares were set to drift higher with Dow futures up 0.2% at 39,576.00. S&P 500 futures rose 0.3% to 5,281.25.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.8% to 39,773.14. Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.5% to 7,817.30. South Korea's Kospi added 1.3% to 2,742.00.

Analysts say Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co's (TSMC) facilities may get quicker-than-expected relief -- easing concerns about production halts --- after a powerful earthquake struck Wednesday, killing at least nine people. Trading was closed in Taiwan, as well as in China, for a national holiday.

Market participants took comfort in the weaker-than-expected U.S. services purchasing managers index overnight, which offset the surprise rebound in manufacturing activities earlier in the week and suggest that overall demand may still remain tame for the Federal Reserve's inflation fight," said Yeap Jun Rong, market analyst at IG.

Share prices also got a lift from a recent report from Japan's major labor union Rengo, or Japanese Trade Union Confederation, that wage increases continued to be solid in this year's negotiations, averaging a rise of more than 5%, the highest in three decades.

The Federal Reserve has indicated it may still cut its main interest rate three times this year, which would relieve pressure on the economy. But Fed officials say they will do so only if more evidence arrives to show inflation is heading down toward their goal of 2%.

A more comprehensive report on the job market for March will arrive from the U.S. government on Friday, and it will likely be the week's headline economic data.

Traders have already drastically reduced their expectations for how many times the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates this year, halving them from a forecast of six at the start of the year. That has them on the same page with Fed officials generally. Some investors, though, are preparing for two or even zero cuts this year because the Fed may not want to begin lowering rates too close to November's election out of fear of appearing political.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude fell 34 cents to $85.09 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, slipped 32 cents to $89.03 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged up to 151.74 Japanese yen from 151.65 yen. The euro cost $1.0859, up from $1.0837.