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Stocks up as Japan data shows glimmer of vitality

BEIJING - Global stocks were mostly higher Thursday after Japan reported a surprise rise in machinery orders as investors looked ahead to the latest U.S. employment and retail sales data.

Germany's DAX rose 1 percent to 9,300.33 and France's CAC-40 gained 0.9 percent to 4,216.07. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent to 6,631.50. Wall Street was set for gains after Wednesday breaking a five day streak of record highs with a slight decline. Dow and S&P futures were both up 0.2 percent.

Machinery orders rose in October in a sign of growing investment. Excluding shipbuilding and electricity, orders rose 2.9 percent over the previous month, defying predictions of a decline. The data is a positive sign for Japan's economy, which has struggled to bounce back from a sales tax hike in April.

In Japan, "capital spending should start to recover soon," said Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics in a report. With the Shoko Chukin survey showing capacity usage at small firms at its highest since 2009, he said, "this measure points to a solid expansion in spending on machinery and equipment."

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gained 1.1 percent to 17,392.79 while China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.4 percent to 2,485.61. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.3 percent to 24,019.94. Taiwan and Singapore rose while India and Seoul fell.

Investors looked ahead to figures on job openings and unemployment benefit claims due later Thursday. October retail sales data are due out Friday. Forecasters expect the Commerce Department to say sales rose 0.2 percent after falling in September.

Investors watched inflation data due out Thursday from larger members of the euro common currency area. Price rises below 1 percent were expected in Germany and France, with a slight decline in Spain. "The big picture remains one of protracted disinflation in the Eurozone," said Daniel Lee of Credit Agricole CIB in a report.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell further on expectations of strong supplies, shedding 46 cents to $76.73 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday, the contract declined 76 cents to a four-year low of $77.18. Brent crude, used to price international oils, plunged $1.58 to $79.54 per barrel in London.

The dollar gained to 115.59 yen from the previous day's 115.47 yen. The euro rose to $1.2457 from $1.2437.