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World stock markets mostly higher on optimism about global growth prospects

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TOKYO - Renewed optimism about the global economy helped push global stock markets higher Tuesday.

Since late last week, investors have digested a raft of positive news from major economies: additional monetary stimulus in Europe, a solid U.S. jobs report for May, stronger first quarter growth in Japan and an improvement in China's exports.

Indications that the U.S. economy is on a roll this quarter after a bumpy start to the year have helped push American stock benchmarks higher for the past month.

European shares were mostly higher in early trading. Germany's DAX advanced 0.2 per cent to 10,030.93, after a record close the previous day. The CAC-40 in France added 0.2 per cent to 4,596.63. But Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.4 per cent to 6,845.84.

Futures pointed to losses on Wall Street. Dow futures were off 0.1 per cent at 16,917 and S&P 500 futures dropped 0.2 per cent to 1,946.60.

Although most Asian markets got a perk from economic developments, the region's main bourse largely marked time, waiting for a new cue.

The Nikkei 225, the benchmark for the Tokyo Stock Exchange, dropped 0.9 per cent to 14,994.80, slipping beneath the key 15,000 mark.

Technology company Softbank Corp., which is acquiring Sprint in the U.S., sank nearly 2 per cent after rising in recent sessions. Fast Retailing Co., which runs discount retailer Uniqlo, dropped 1.6 per cent.

Hiroki Ihara, head of research at Phillip Securities in Tokyo, said share prices had entered a temporary adjustment phase but had room to rise, especially if foreign players join in greater numbers.

"Today the yen rose slightly and so prices degenerated during the day," he said. "But compared to global stocks, there is still a sense that Japanese shares are lagging behind." The Nikkei is down 11 per cent over the past 12 months compared with gains for most other Asian benchmarks.

He foresees the index testing the 15,000 level again in coming sessions. A weak yen is a plus for Japan Inc. because it boosts the earnings of the nation's giant exporters.

The dollar fell to 102.34 yen from 102.51 yen late Monday. The euro dropped to $1.3559 from $1.3595.

Among other Asian stock markets, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.9 per cent to 23,315.74 and South Korea's Kospi added 1.1 per cent to 2,011.80.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.1 per cent to 5,469.70. Markets in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude for July delivery added 20 cents to $104.61 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.75 to close at $104.41 on Monday.

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Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at twitter.com/yurikageyama

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