World stocks rise as bank fears ease; China economy improves

A Saudi man walks at the Tadawul Saudi Stock Exchange, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Monday, June 15, 2015. Saudi Arabia's stock market, valued at $585 billion, opened up to direct foreign investment for the first time Monday, as the kingdom seeks an economic boost amid low global oil prices. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
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TOKYO (AP) — Global shares were mostly higher Thursday as worries over turmoil in the banking industry eased and a top Chinese leader said the No. 2 economy was gaining momentum.

France’s CAC 40 rose nearly 0.9% to 7,250.49. Germany’s DAX jumped 1.0% to 15,484.54. Britain’s FTSE 100 edged up 0.4% to 7,597.14.

The future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained nearly 0.4% and the contract for the S&P 500 was up 0.4%. Oil prices rose.

In Asian trading, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 shed 0.4% to finish at 27,782.93. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 1.0% to 7,122.30. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.4% to 2,453.16.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.6% to 20,309.13, while the Shanghai Composite advanced 0.7% to 3,261.25 after China’s new No. 2 leader, Premier Li Qiang, said the recovery from a long slowdown picked up pace in March.

The economy showed “encouraging momentum of rebounding” in January and February, Li said at the Boao Forum for Asia, a gathering of businesspeople and politicians on the southern island of Hainan.

“The situation in March is even better,” he said.

Markets recently have been wracked by worries about banks and fears the industry may be cracking under the pressure of much higher interest rates.

Forceful actions by regulators have helped to calm markets as investors have turned their focus to how central banks might adjust their interest rate policies to reflect persisting worries over how higher rates might affect lenders.

But a measure of fear among stock investors on Wall Street has fallen to nearly where it was on March 8, the day before Silicon Valley Bank’s customers suddenly yanked out $42 billion in a panicked dash. It became the second-largest U.S. bank failure in history and sparked harsher scrutiny of banks around the world.

After regulators in Switzerland brokered a takeover of Credit Suisse by rival UBS, UBS said it’s bringing back its former CEO, Sergio Ermotti, to help it absorb Credit Suisse. Ermotti led a turnaround at UBS following the 2008 financial crisis.

The path ahead for the Federal Reserve and other central banks has become much more difficult because of the banking industry’s struggles. Typically, the still-high inflation seen around the world would call for even higher interest rates. But that would risk more pressure on banks, which could pull back on lending and squeeze the economy.

For now, a resilient job market has been holding up the U.S. economy, even as parts of it weaken under higher interest rates.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 31 cents to $73.28 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, edged up 33 cents to $78.61 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar slipped to 132.43 Japanese yen from 132.75 yen. The euro cost $1.0867, inching up from $1.0847.