World stocks gain after Wall Street has best day in 6 weeks

BANGKOK (AP): Shares were mostly higher Monday in Europe and Asia after strong data on the U.S. economy sent Wall Street to its best close in six weeks.

Germany’s DAX gained 0.4% to 15,644.08 and the CAC 40 in Paris was up 0.7% at 7,397.31. London’s FTSE 100 edged 0.1% lower to 7,941.38. The future for the S&P 500 gained 0.2% while that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.2%.

On Friday, the S&P 500 rose 1.6% to cap its first winning week in the last four as easing yields in the bond market relieved pressure on Wall Street. It’s found some stability following a swift rise and fall to start the year. The Dow industrials climbed 1.2%, while the Nasdaq composite jumped 2%.

In Asian trading Monday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.2% to 20,603.19 and the Shanghai Composite index lost 0.2% to 3,322.03.

At the annual session of China’s rubberstamp legislature, the government set this year’s economic growth target at “around 5% ” as it tries to rebuild business activity following the end of anti-virus controls that kept millions of people at home.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has said the priority is an economic revival based on consumer spending after growth sank to 3% last year, its second-lowest level since at least the 1970s. Officials who briefed media Monday about economic planning did not provide fresh or specific policy initiatives to attain that goal.

 “The slower-than-expected GDP growth target set by the government of around 5% matches our GDP forecast of 5% for this year,” ING said in a commentary. “The government realizes that a weakening external market would impose challenges to China’s export-related industries.”

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 1.1% to 28,237.78 and the Kospi in Seoul added 1.3% to 2,462.62. The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia added 0.6% to 7,328.60. India’s Sensex climbed 0.9% to 60,324.58 and shares rose in Taiwan. Thailand’s markets were closed for a national holiday.

Markets have been fluctuating amid uncertainty over where inflation is heading and what the Federal Reserve will do about it.

Wall Street rallied earlier in the year on hopes that cooling inflation would get the Fed to take it easier on its hikes to interest rates. Such increases can drive down inflation by slowing the economy, but they also raise the risk of a recession later on and hurt prices for investments.

Last month, stocks fell after reports on the economy came in hotter than expected. They included data on the jobs market, consumer spending and inflation itself at multiple levels.

The strong data raised concerns about continued upward pressure on inflation. That forced Wall Street to abandon hopes for rate cuts this year and raise its expectations for how high rates would go.

But data released Friday that showed the economy is in better shape than thought was taken as a good sign, calming worries about a possible recession even if it could add to pressure on inflation.

The next move by the Fed on interest rates is scheduled for later this month. Before then, reports on the strength of the job market and on inflation will likely have big impacts on the market and expectations for what the Fed will do.

Last month, it dialed down the size of its rate increases and highlighted progress being made in the battle to get inflation lower. It also earlier suggested just two more increases to rates may be on the way. But the strong reports since then have raised worries that the Fed could not only hike at least three more times but also could dial back up the size of the increases.

In other trading Monday, U.S. benchmark crude lost 39 cents to $79.29 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $1.52 to $79.68 per barrel on Friday.

Brent crude, the international pricing standard, lost 49 cents to $85.34 per barrel.

The dollar fell to 135.91 Japanese yen from 135.98 yen late Friday. The euro rose to $1.0646 from $1.0626.