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European shares gain, Asia lackluster

TOKYO - European shares rose Wednesday, led by BNP Paribas after the bank said it had enough funds to pay a nearly $9 billion settlement of charges it violated U.S. trade sanctions. Asian stock markets were lackluster despite an improvement in China's manufacturing.

In early European trading, Britain's FTSE 100 jumped 0.5 percent to 6,774.77. France's CAC 40 added 0.6 percent to 4,447.51 and Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent to 9,857.72.

BNP Paribas, France's biggest bank, admitted to violating sanctions by processing billions of dollars in illegal transactions on behalf of clients in Sudan, Cuba and Iran that the U.S. had blacklisted to block their participation in the global financial system. The case has weighed on BNP's share price and the resolution, though it involves a massive fine, is a relief for shareholders.

U.S. markets looked set for a positive session, with Dow futures up 0.2 percent and S&P 500 futures also up 0.2 percent.

In Asia, investors appeared to shrug off data showing Chinese manufacturing is regaining momentum,

Mainland China's key benchmark, the Shanghai Composite Index, added 0.1 percent to 2,050.38 after a monthly survey of purchasing managers by HSBC showed manufacturing grew in June for the first time in six months, though the expansion was weak.

The rate of improvement was "only slight and weaker than the historical average," HSBC said.

Markets in Hong Kong were closed for a public holiday.

Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 1.1 percent to 15,326.20 after the central bank released a survey showing better-than-expected business sentiment despite a decline in the April-June quarter.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea's Kospi fell 0.2 percent to 1,999.00. Shares in Australia, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia also fell, while those in Taiwan and New Zealand gained.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery was up 43 cents to $105.80 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 37 cents on Monday.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 101.58 yen from 101.32 yen late Monday. The euro slipped to $1.3697 from $1.3693.