TOKYO - World markets were mostly higher Wednesday ahead of U.S. economic data while cheery earnings from major Japanese companies such as Honda Motor Co. boosted Asian stocks.
In morning trade in Europe, France's CAC 40 dipped 0.1 percent to 4,359.30 and Britain's FTSE 100 was flat at 6,807.75. Germany's DAX inched up 0.1 percent to 9,659.53. Futures painted a brighter picture for Wall Street ahead of quarterly U.S. growth figures. Dow futures and S&P 500 futures both gained 0.2 percent.
Asian shares were mostly higher, with Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rising 0.2 percent to finish at 15,646.23. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong was up 0.4 percent to 24,732.21. South Korea's Kospi added 1 percent to 2,082.61. Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.6 percent to 5,622.89. Southeast Asian markets were mixed.
Honda shares added 3.3 percent after a strong quarterly earnings report Tuesday, released after Tokyo stock trading closed, which prompted the Japanese automaker to raise its full year projections. The cheap yen is working as a plus for export manufacturers such as Honda, which are expanding sales in China and other emerging markets.
Markets are looking ahead to key data being released later this week. U.S. gross domestic product for the April-June quarter, scheduled for Wednesday, is among the most important. Analysts expect growth to bounce back after a severe winter hit the first quarter numbers. Federal Reserve policymakers also conclude a two-day meeting later Wednesday. The next day, there's a report on China's manufacturing industry, a key sign for regional growth. On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department releases its monthly jobs report.
"Asia has witnessed another extension of the gains seen in recent days," says Chris Weston, market strategist at IG in Melbourne, while stressing: "US data will be the main event though." Further sanctions against Russia have generally dampened stock buying. The U.S. and Europe announced expanded sanctions against Russia in response to the downing of a Malaysian airliner over an area of Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
In currencies, the euro slipped to $1.3405 from $1.3411 late Tuesday, and the dollar edged up to 102.17 yen from 102.10 yen. Benchmark U.S. crude for September delivery was up 45 cents to $101.42 a barrel.