Chinese investors monitor stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. Asian markets were mostly higher on Wednesday after big American companies reported strong earnings for the third quarter, soothing fears that rising interest rates may weigh on business appetite. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

World stocks rally on strong US earnings reports

October 31, 2018 - 6:21 am

SINGAPORE (AP) — Global markets were broadly higher on Wednesday after big American companies reported strong earnings for the third quarter, soothing fears that rising interest rates may deter corporate investment.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 rebounded 1.7 percent to 7,151.86. Germany's DAX rose 1.6 percent to 11,471.98 and France's CAC 40 rallied 2.1 percent to 5,080.74. Wall Street was set for early gains. Dow futures added 0.6 percent to 24,997.00. The broader S&P 500 futures was 0.7 percent higher at 2,703.90.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 index jumped 2.2 percent to 21,920.46 and the Shanghai Composite index added 1.4 percent to 2,602.78. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.6 percent to 24,979.69. The Kospi in South Korea gained 0.7 percent to 2,029.69. Australia's S&P-ASX 200 reversed early losses, finishing the day 0.4 percent higher at 5,830.30. Shares were higher in Taiwan and throughout Southeast Asia.

U.S. EARNINGS: Big companies including Mondelez, which makes Oreos, Cadbury chocolates and Trident gum, reported strong quarterly earnings on Tuesday. Mondelez's stocks rose by the most in a year, gaining 5 percent to $42.12, after it announced third-quarter profits that surpassed market expectations. Athletic apparel maker Under Armour also posted strong quarterly earnings. Even Facebook's shares inched higher in after-hours trading after it reported revenue that was slightly under projections. This assuaged concerns that steady interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve are raising the cost of borrowing. Another increase is expected later this year, with more to come in 2019.

EUROZONE DATA: According to statistics agency Eurostat, growth in the 19-country eurozone slowed in the third quarter, its weakest performance in more than four years. The agency said the eurozone economy expanded by 0.2 percent in the July-September period, half that of the previous quarter. It did not give reasons for why growth slowed, but economists said Italy's budget standoff and uncertainty surrounding Britain's exit deal was may have shaken investor confidence.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Global economic fundamentals are still intact. Although growth has slowed in the third quarter for most economies, it's not contracting," Francis Tan, an investment strategist at UOB private bank, said in an interview. "The drop in global equities this month, to the tune of $8 trillion, makes it an irresistible thesis for investors to get back into the action," he said.

CHINESE PMI: On Wednesday, China reported that its official manufacturing purchasing managers' index slowed to 50.2 in October from 50.8 a month earlier. Figures had declined across the board except for production outlook, which was unchanged. Readings above 50 indicate expansion, while lower numbers indicate contraction on the index's 100-point scale. Still, sentiment was supported by an open call from the Chinese government to funds to support the equity markets.

BANK OF JAPAN: As expected, Japan's central bank kept its monetary stance intact as it wrapped up its latest policy meeting. The Bank of Japan kept the key interest rate at minus 0.1 percent and its target for long-term bond rates at around zero. The bank also downgraded its GDP forecast for the fiscal year through March, to 1.4 percent from 1.5 percent, with an estimate of 0.8 percent for the following fiscal year.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 34 cents to $66.52 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped 86 cents to settle at $66.18 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 65 cents to $76.60 per barrel. In the previous session, it dropped $1.42 to $75.95 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar was flat at 113.13 yen. The euro fell to $1.1336 from $1.1343.

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AP Markets Writer Marley Jay contributed to this report.

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