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Japanese stocks rose for a second day as the earnings outlook for Asian exporters brightened on President Barack Obama’s plan to inject more than $300 billion into the U.S. economy and signs Europe’s debt crisis is easing.
Inpex Corp. (1605) gained 4.5 percent as oil traded near the highest close in more than a month.
Tokyo Electron Ltd. (8035) gained 3 percent after a jump by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index, which tracks the performance of 30 industry stocks.
Fanuc Corp. (6954) dropped 3.4 percent after Japan’s machine orders fell more than economists expected.
Stocks also rose after Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi won a confidence vote on austerity measures and Germany’s top court rejected challenges to the participation of Europe’s largest economy in euro-rescue funds, easing concern about Europe’s debt crisis.
Exporters rose. Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) rose 0.8 percent. Nintendo Co. rose 1.9 percent.
Gains in stocks were limited after Japan’s Cabinet Office reported that machine orders fell 8.2 percent in July after rising 7.7 percent in June. The median forecast of economists was for a 4.2 percent decline.
European stocks climbed, extending the Stoxx Europe 600 Index’s largest rally in three weeks, as oil producers and retailers advanced.
Total SA (FP) and Tullow Oil Plc (TLW) advanced at least 2.5 percent as oil rose.
KBC Groep NV rallied 5.9 percent following a report that Banco Santander SA (SAN) seeks to buy KBC’s Polish unit.
Home Retail Group Plc (HOME) gained 2 percent after saying the sales decline at its Argos chain slowed.
The central bank cut its growth forecasts for this year and next and President Jean-Claude Trichet said the region’s economy faces “particularly high uncertainty and intensified downside risks,” at a press conference in Frankfurt.
In the U.K., Bank of England policy makers resisted calls to extend economic stimulus as they attempted to navigate a path between accelerating inflation and a faltering recovery.
The nine-member Monetary Policy Committee, led by Mervyn King, maintained the target of its bond program at 200 billion pounds ($320 billion) as forecasted.
U.S. stocks fell Thursday after Ben Bernanke made a speech that failed to knock investors' socks off.
Companies: The Men's Warehouse (MW) reported a 34% jump in second-quarter earnings compared with last year. Despite the strong performance, shares of the clothier fell 10%.
AOL (AOL) stayed in the spotlight as its TechCrunch fiasco continued. Inside sources say TechCrunch's founder Michael Arrington will be fired, in the aftermath of his launching a new venture capital fund - CrunchFund. Shares of AOL ended the day down slightly less than 1%.
Shares of Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) and JPMorgan (JPM, Fortune 500) were among the weakest performers on the Dow.
But strength in the technology and consumer staples sectors helped support the index.
Cisco, (CSCO, Fortune 500) Microsoft, (MSFT, Fortune 500) Kraft (KFT, Fortune 500) and Procter & Gamble (PG, Fortune 500) were all higher.
Economy: Filings for first-time unemployment benefits rose 2,000 to 414,000 in the week ending Sept. 2, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That was up from the 409,000 claims filed the week before, and worse than the 400,000 claims economists had expected.
The U.S. trade gap narrowed to $44.8 billion in July, led by a surge in exports. Trade balance figures were expected to show the deficit widened to $51.5 billion in July, from $53.1 billion in June.
On the European front, the Bank of England and the European Central Bank opted to keep their key interest rates unchanged.
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