AMSTERDAM Global stocks drifted upwards Friday as Asia rebounded from a sharp selloff following a strong close in Wall Street.
It also appeared that investors have begun to reassure themselves that central bank cuts to stimulus measures still appear to be some way off.
Brenda Kelly, Senior Market Strategist at IG Market said she sees "signs of exhaustion in the overall downward equity correction" of recent weeks, which was prompted by fears the U.S. Federal Reserve might wind down its bond-buying program and that the Bank of Japan has done all it is prepared to do to stimulate the Japanese economy.
But "the suggestion from the Bank of Japan minutes overnight was that more aggressive action could occur, should the policymakers deem it necessary," she said, and "it is extremely unlikely that Federal Reserve President Ben Bernanke will hurry to completely remove the liquidity punchbowl" -- though she said the possibility of a rate hike could not be ruled out completely.
Worries about what the Fed's next move might be will continue to keep markets on edge until its Open Market Committee meets next week.
In Europe, Britain's FSTE 100 rose 0.3 percent to 6,321.94. France's CAC-40 gained 0.2 percent to 3,805.50 and Germany's DAX rose 0.5 percent to 8,157.88.
U.S. markets rose Thursday on data showing U.S. retail sales rose 0.6 percent in May, their strongest showing in six months. Also, the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits was smaller than expected last week.
Futures forecast a slightly lower open Friday, with the S&P 500 seen down 0.2 percent and the Dow Jones Industrials seen flat at 15,115.
Kelly of IG Markets said that U.S. data due out later will determine the tone for the second half of the European session. Manufacturing data for May is expected to show an increase of 0.3 percent, compared to a fall of 0.5 percent in April. The consumer confidence index is expected to remain at a five year high of 84.5. "A miss here could send equity markets tracking lower," she said.
In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225, the regional heavyweight, gained 1.9 percent to close at 12,686.52, recovering some of its losses after Thursday's 6.4 percent plunge .
China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.6 percent to 2,162.04, coming off its lowest close in six months following Thursday's 2.8 percent slide. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.4 percent to 20,969.14 and Seoul added 0.4 percent to 1,889.24. India's Sensex rose 1.6 percent to 19,126.03.
Japanese markets have weakened following a burst of euphoria over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic turnaround plan. Markets had surged 50 percent since the start of the year but doubts are mounting about whether Abe's plan will work.
The Nikkei's plunge Thursday took the Japanese market to a 20 percent decline from its May 22 high -- the definition of a bear market.
News reports said finance ministers from the 17 euro countries were due to meet Friday in Rome to discuss possible support for banks.
"A deal would likely be viewed as positive as other components of the banking union will take a long time before they are implemented," said Credit Agricole CIB analyst Mitul Kotecha.
In currency markets, the euro declined to $1.3321 from $1.3345 late Thursday in New York. The dollar was 0.4 percent weaker at 94.91 yen.
Benchmark oil for July delivery rose 38 cents to $97.07, gaining on Thursday's improved U.S. economic data.