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World shares rise, shrug off slower China growth

TOKYO - World stock markets rose Wednesday as China's slowdown in the first quarter was less severe than expected.

Germany's DAX rose 0.6 percent to 9,234.84 and France's CAC 40 added 0.8 percent to 4,378.67. Britain's FTSE 100 climbed 0.6 percent to 6,578.19.

Wall Street looked headed for an upbeat start, with Dow Jones and S&P 500 futures both 0.4 percent higher.

Investors took heart from the fact the slowdown in China's growth in the first quarter was a bit less marked than expected. The world's second-largest economy expanded 7.4 percent from a year earlier, the slowest expansion since the third quarter of 2012, but better than the average forecast of 7.3 percent growth.

"The more frequent monthly data points -- fixed asset investment, industrial production and retail sales -- were mixed but on the whole improved," said IG chief strategist Chris Weston in a market commentary.

China's economy grew 7.7 percent in the final quarter of last year. Beijing is targeting 7.5 percent growth for 2014

In Asia, Japanese stocks were still in recovery mode after last week's global rout in technology shares.

The Nikkei 225 index jumped 3 percent to 14,417.68 as a weaker yen boosted exporter stocks and Softbank Corp. shares surged 8.5 percent after Chinese e-commerce Alibaba Group Holding Co., in which it holds a 37 percent stake, reported strong earnings.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 0.1 percent to 22,696.01 and South Korea's Kospi was steady at 1,992.21.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Shanghai Composite added 0.2 percent to 2,105.12. Markets also rose in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, but fell in India.

The price of oil rose Wednesday as Ukraine took action against pro-Russian separatists in its east. Benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery was up 83 cents at $104.58 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It closed Tuesday at $103.75, down 30 cents.

In currencies, the dollar was trading at 102.32 yen, up from 101.86 yen late Tuesday. The euro was trading at $1.3849, compared with $1.3814.

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