HONG KONG (AP) — Most Asian stock markets were higher Thursday on hopes Greece can reach a deal with creditors to save the country from financial disaster and signs that Europe's stimulus program is working.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index gained 0.4 percent to 20,546.25 while South Korea's Kospi rose 0.7 percent to 2,078.44. Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.4 percent to 27,776.11 while the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China added 0.4 percent to 4,933.23. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.4 percent to 5,561.80.
GREEK TALKS: Key creditors are meeting with Greece's prime minister in Brussels this week as part of diplomatic efforts to resolve negotiations over budget reforms it needs to carry out in order to get access to bailout loans. Investor hopes were rising that both sides would be able to come to a deal and avert financial meltdown for the debt-stricken country.
EUROPE'S RECOVERY: European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said the 1.1 trillion euro stimulus program is supporting the modest recovery in the eurozone. He also raised the ECB's inflation 2015 forecast to 0.3 percent from zero previously, signaling there's less risk of a long-term drop in prices that can cause economic stagnation.
WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks rose on encouraging economic news. The S&P 500 edged up 0.2 percent to close at 2,114.07 while the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.4 percent to 18,076.27. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.5 percent to 5,099.23.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 9 cents to $59.55 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.62 to close at $59.64 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, lost 14 cents to $63.66 in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 124.47 yen from 124.35 yen on Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.1275 from $1.1262.