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World stocks mostly higher as ECB hopes build

(AP) HONG KONG - World stocks were mostly higher Tuesday, kept aloft by mounting expectations that European policymakers will unleash powerful measures to battle the continent's debt crisis.

Investors are pinning their hopes on a European Central Bank meeting later this week where many expect ECB President Mario Draghi to announce big plans to support the euro, following his comments last week that the bank is "ready to do what it takes" to save the beleaguered currency. Spain's borrowing costs have surged, raising the risk that one of Europe's biggest economies will need a potentially unaffordable bailout that would strain the euro currency union.

"It's all about the ECB at the moment," strategist Stan Shamu of IG Markets in Melbourne, said in a commentary. "Mr Draghi has made people believe we will see a strong policy response to the rise in peripheral European bond yields," Shamu said. He cautioned that the chances of investors being disappointed following Thursday's meeting are very high.

In early European trading, Germany's DAX rose 0.3 percent to 6,793.16 while France's CAC 40 was flat at 3,319.91. The FTSE 100 index of leading British companies dipped 0.1 percent to 5,686.19. U.S. stocks were poised to gain. Dow futures were up 0.2 percent to 13,028.00 while broader S&P 500 futures added 0.2 percent to 1,382.70.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average rose 0.7 percent to close at 8,695.06 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.1 percent to 19,796.81. South Korea's Kospi rose 2.1 percent to 1,881.99 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.6 percent to 4,269.20. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Indonesia and New Zealand also rose.

China's Shanghai Composite dipped 0.3 percent to finish at 2,103.63 as investors appeared unimpressed by a government announcement the day before that it will launch projects to attract private investments in energy, health and other industry sectors in an attempt to reverse an economic slump.

U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers are also meeting this week, adding to hopes of more monetary stimulus for the world's biggest economy.

In Hong Kong, shipbuilder China Rongsheng Heavy Industries Group tumbled 6.8 percent and developer Glorious Property Holdings Ltd. plunged 7.6 percent, following big drops on Monday. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said last week it froze the assets of another company controlled by Rongsheng and Glorious Property's Chairman Zhang Zhi Rong because it allegedly profited from inside information ahead of Chinese oil company CNOOC's plans to buy Canadian gas company Nexen. Rongsheng and Glorious have said the matter won't affect business.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2267 from $1.2261 in late trading Monday. The dollar rose to 78.27 Japanese yen from 78.21 yen.

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