LONDON Indications that a U.S.-led military intervention in Syria may not be happening imminently allowed investors to regroup Thursday, helping stocks to push higher and oil prices to drift back.
The prospect of an immediate multinational responseto a proposal to use force against Syria.
Andto back a military strike. The U.K. government also backed down on a parliamentary vote to authorize British participation in any strike against Syria until UN inspectors reveal their findings on the apparent chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus that has been blamed on the government of President Bashar Assad. The report is expected within a week.
"What seems like a delay in U.S. and allied military action in Syria is providing temporary relief for the equity markets that endured weakness earlier in the week," said Neil MacKinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital.
For now though, stock markets in Europe and Asia tracked their U.S. counterparts higher.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.5 percent at 6,459 while Germany's DAX rose 0.3 percent to 8,184. The CAC-40 in France was 0.2 percent higher at 3,967.
Wall Street was poised for further modest gains at the open, with Dow futures up 0.2 percent and the broader S&P 500 futures 0.1 percent higher.
How U.S. markets open could well hinge on a raft of economic data due, including weekly jobless claims and an updated reading of second-quarter economic growth. The previous estimate showed the U.S. economy grew by a 2.2 percent annualized rate in the April to June quarter.
"With Syria perhaps on the back-burner for a while, today may see the market switch its attention back to economic data," said Michael Every, an analyst at Rabobank International.
Up until this week, the main focus of attention through the summer months has been whether the Federal Reserve will start to reduce its monetary stimulus as soon as next months. A run of largely solid economic figures had raised the likelihood of that happening but recently the data have been a little bit more mixed.
The Fed is currently buying $85 billion worth of financial assets a month in an attempt to lower borrowing rates and shore up the U.S. economy.
The money has been one of the reasons why stock markets around the world have recovered over the past few years following the global financial crisis so the prospect of a reduction in the stimulus, or so-called tapering, has been met with concern by a number of investors even though it would indicate economic conditions getting back to normal.
Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.9 percent to close at 13,459.71 while South Korea's Kospi advanced 1.2 percent to 1,907.54. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.7 percent to 21,704.78 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.1 percent to 5,092.40.
Elsewhere, there was a reverse of the trends that had dominated much of the week, particularly in commodity markets. The price of benchmark oil was down 98 cents at $109.12 a barrel, On Wednesday, the contract closed at $110.10 a barrel, its highest finish since May 3, 2011.
Gold prices were also a tad softer after racing up to three-month highs on the back of worries over Syria. Gold often garners support through its status as a safe investment at a time of geopolitical uncertainty.
In the currency markets, the euro was down 0.7 percent at $1.3254 while the dollar rose 0.4 percent to 98.15 yen.