LONDON (AP) — European stock markets brushed aside soft economic data to trade modestly higher Thursday as this week's largely positive investor sentiment persisted.
KEEPING SCORE: France's CAC 40 was up 0.4 percent at 4,212 while Germany's DAX rose the same rate to 9,230. Britain's FTSE 100 edged up 0.5 percent to 6,670. U.S. shares were set to open higher, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.1 percent.
EUROPE SAGS: The advances in Europe came despite figures showing that the two major economies in the 18-country eurozone cast doubt over the recovery — a se. The Germany economy lost momentum, shrinking by 0.2 percent in the April-June period, while the French economy stagnated for second straight quarter. Overall, eurozone output was flat in the second quarter.
ANALYST TAKE: "Investors appear to be betting that the continued raft of disappointing economic data could compel the European Central Bank to take further steps to help try and boost economic activity before the end of the year," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.
ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.7 percent to close at 15,314.57 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 ended 0.6 percent higher at 5,548.50. South Korea's Kospi was practically unchanged at 2,063.22. But Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.4 percent to 24,801.36, after swinging between gains and losses for most of the day. The Shanghai Composite in mainland China followed the same pattern, down 0.7 percent to 2,206.47.
CHINA ECONOMY: Benchmarks in Hong Kong and Shanghai declined a day after disappointing data on the Chinese economy left investors fretting that authorities in Beijing were comfortable with slowing growth and would refrain from further stimulus. Fixed investment and industrial production for July slowed, though the big surprise was the sharp drop in loan growth, which Rabobank analyst Michael Every called "shockingly low."
ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil for September delivery was down 16 cents to $97.43 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 60 cents to $104.46 in London.
CURRENCIES: The euro rose 0.1 percent to $1.3375 while the dollar was little changed at 102.44 yen.