TOKYO (AP) — Shares rose Thursday as a rebound in oil prices helped energy companies and corporate deal-making bolstered confidence. A buying spree by mainland Chinese investors pushed Hong Kong's benchmark sharply higher.
KEEPING SCORE: Britain's FTSE rose 0.9 percent to 6,996.88, while France's CAC 40 climbed 1.1 percent to 5,193.04. Germany's DAX added 0.6 percent to 12,103.92. Wall Street looked set for small gains on the open, with the S&P futures up 0.1 percent and Dow futures roughly flat.
HONG KONG: Hong Kong's benchmark closed at its highest level in eight years after mainland Chinese investors bought heavily. The Hang Seng jumped 6.3 percent before losing a large share of those gains to profit-taking. Chinese are shifting investments into Hong Kong, which is seen as a bargain following rallies in mainland Chinese markets that have made shares in Shanghai and Shenzhen relatively expensive.
THE QUOTE: "Money came flooding into Hong Kong's stock market Wednesday, and the market took flight, trading at its highest since 2008 and setting record trading volumes," Stephen Innes, senior trader for OANDA Asia Pacific, said in a commentary.
GLOBAL DEALMAKING: Sentiment has also been boosted by a raft of corporate deals — oil company Shell's decision to buy BG Group for $69.7 billion was followed by news that pharma company Mylan wants to buy Perrigo for $28.86 billion. The premiums typically paid in such transactions tend to raise share prices.
GREECE: Investors in Europe were relieved also by confirmation that Greece had met a debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund despite the country's cash crunch. It paid about 450 million euros on Thursday even as it is waiting for more rescue loans from its European state creditors.
ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index rose 0.8 percent to 19,937.72, tapping fresh 15-year highs as the Japanese yen softened against the U.S. dollar. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 2.7 percent to 26,944.39. South Korea's Kospi was nearly flat at 2,058.87, while Australia's S&P ASX/200 slipped 0.5 percent to 5,932.20. China's Shanghai Composite fell 0.9 percent to 3,957.53.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 89 cents to $51.31 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost $3.56, or almost 7 percent, to close at $50.42 a barrel in New York on Wednesday after the U.S. Energy Department reported oil in storage was about triple what analysts had estimated.
CURRENCIES: The euro slipped to $1.0767 versus $1.0797 on Wednesday. The dollar fell to 119.92 yen after rising to 120.15 yen the day before.