​World markets climb on China's eased lending rules

BEIJING - Global stocks rose Tuesday after an easing of Chinese bank lending rules helped offset a weak manufacturing reading and a decline in Japanese consumer spending.

At 8 a.m. Eastern in European trading, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was up 0.8 percent to 6,145, Germany's DAX gained 1.6 percent to 9,644 points and France's CAC-40 added 0.7 percent to 4,384. On Monday, the DAX slipped 0.2 percent, while Britain's FTSE 100 was unchanged. The CAC-40 rose 0.9 percent.

Wall Street looked set for gains, with futures for the Dow Jones industrial average up 0.7 percent and Standard & Poor's 500 index 0.8 percent.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 1.7 percent to 2,733 points, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.5 percent to 19,407. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 added 0.4 percent to 16,086, and Sydney's S&P ASX 200 gained 0.8 percent to 4,922.

India's Sensex galloped ahead 3.4 percent to 23,779, while Taiwan, Singapore and New Zealand also advanced. Korean markets were closed for a holiday.

Moving to shore up slowing economic growth, Beijing freed more money for lending by lowering the amount commercial lenders must hold in reserve. The change reduced required reserves by 0.5 percent points effective Tuesday, which will release several hundred billion yuan (tens of billions of dollars) into the market.

Chinese trading is heavily influenced by the availability of credit, so an easing can lead to higher prices.

A survey showed Chinese factory activity in February fell to its lowest level in five months. Employment shrank at its fastest rate since the start of 2009 in the aftermath of the global crisis.

Japan's government reported consumer spending fell 3.1 percent in January from a year earlier following December's 4.4 percent decline. That was despite a slight improvement in employment. "Today's figures suggest that private consumption continued to fall in Q1," said Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics in a report.

"The economy's road to stability remains bumpy," said He Fan, Caijing magazine's chief economist, of the manufacturing report Tuesday. "The government needs to press ahead with reforms, while adopting moderate stimulus policies and strengthening support of the economy in other ways to prevent it from falling off a cliff."

Stocks fell Monday on Wall Street, erasing nearly all the market's gains for the month. Health care stocks declined on weak earnings, and lower natural gas prices pushed down energy shares. Investors lost enthusiasm for stocks after two straight weekly gains.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 123.47 points, or 0.7 percent, to 16,516.50. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 15.82 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,932.23. That pushed the S&P 500 to its third monthly loss. The Nasdaq composite index retreated 32.52 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,557.95.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 67 cents to $34.42 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 97 cents on Monday to close at $33.75. Brent crude, used to price international oil, rose 32 cents to $36.89 in London. It jumped $1.13 on Monday to $36.57.

The dollar rose to 113.18 yen from Monday's 112.49 yen. The euro edged down to $1.0864 from $1.0880.