LONDON (AP) — European shares rose Wednesday as European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi gave few hints that the bank will bring its stimulus earlier than planned. Shares in Asia fell, however, after figures showed China growing at its slowest pace in six years.
KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 0.7 percent to 12,273 while the CAC-40 in France was up 0.7 percent at 5,253. Britain's FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.4 percent higher at 7,107. Wall Street was poised for a solid opening with both Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.4 percent.
FOCUS ON DRAGHI: Minutes after being forced from the stage at his briefing by a protester, Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, indicated that he bank will stick with its monthly bond purchases despite recent signs of an economic rebound in the 19-country eurozone. A raft of solid economic data have ratcheted up expectations that the ECB will ease up the pace on its purchases, so-called tapering. His briefing came after the bank kept its main interest rate unchanged at a record low of 0.05 percent. As his briefing came to an end, the euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.0633.
CHINA DATA: China was also in focus Wednesday after figures showed the world's number 2 economy cooled further as manufacturing and retail sales slowed in January-March. Growth fell to 7 percent from the previous quarter's 7.3 percent, the weakest performance since it tumbled to 6.1 percent in the first quarter of 2009. The slower pace of growth has raised expectations that Beijing will look to enact further stimulus.
ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index fell 0.2 percent to 19,869.76. Hong Kong's Hang Seng recovered from early losses, gaining 0.2 percent to 27,618.82 and South Korea's Kospi gained 0.4 percent to 2,119.96. But the Shanghai composite index yoyo'd to end the day 1.2 percent lower at 4,084.16. In Australia, whose resource sector is vulnerable to fluctuations in Chinese demand, the S&P ASX/200 fell 0.6 percent to 5,908.40.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.07 to $54.36 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 75 cents to $59.17 a barrel in London.