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World stocks mixed ahead of U.S. housing figures

BANGKOK Asian stocks rebounded Friday on encouraging economic data from China and Europe, but markets elsewhere paused as traders waited for data on U.S. home sales.

In early European trading, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent to 6,457.64. But Germany's DAX was marginally lower at 8,392.54 and France's CAC-40 fell 0.5 percent 4,039.60. Wall Street looked set to fall, with Dow Jones industrial futures down 0.2 percent at 14,917. S&P 500 futures lost 0.1 percent to 1,652.90.

The investment mood was cautious ahead of the U.S. government's release of new home sales for July, which should yield clues about the health of the U.S. economy. Data on European consumer confidence was also due to be released.

Markets in Asia showed more buoyancy, driven by a survey released Thursday by HSBC Corp. that showed an expansion in China's manufacturing in August. Traders took that as evidence that the world's second-largest economy may be over its recent weakness. HSBC's preliminary purchasing managers index rose to 50.1 from July's 47.7, crossing the critical 50 threshold to indicate an expansion in activity.

"This should reassure even the most bearish that China has avoided a hard landing for now," Qinwei Wang of Capital Economics wrote in an email commentary.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index jumped 2.2 percent to 13,660.55. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.9 percent to 5,123.40. South Korea's Kospi added 1.1 percent to 1,870.16. Hong Kong's Hang Seng reversed early gains to close 0.2 percent down at to 21,863.51.

Sam Le Cornu, portfolio manager at Macquarie Funds Group in Hong Kong, said the manufacturing survey supported arguments that the world's No. 2 economy should meet Beijing's official target of 7.5 percent growth for the year.

"For China specifically, the fundamentals remain sound," he said.

Japanese export shares rallied as the yen retreated against the dollar. A weaker yen lowers the cost of Japan's exports in overseas markets while increasing the value of repatriated profits. Yamaha Motor Corp. surged 4.4 percent. Toshiba gained 4.2 percent.

Benchmark oil for October delivery was up 17 cents to $105.20 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.18 to close at $105.03 on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3367 from $1.3365 late Thursday. The dollar rose to 98.96 yen from 98.72 yen.

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