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World Stock Markets Rise After Fed Chief's Speech

PAMELA SAMPSON

BANGKOK (AP) â¿¿ World stock markets rose Monday, with buying appetite getting a boost from Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke's prediction that the U.S. economy will eventually return to full health.

Oil prices lingered above $85 a barrel in Asia after Hurricane Irene did little damage to refineries along the U.S. East Coast. The dollar was lower against the yen and the euro.

European shares were mostly higher in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 was little changed at 5,129.92 and Germany's DAX was up 1.4 percent at 5,615.56. France's CAC-40 rose 1.3 percent to 3,128.85.

Stocks on Wall Street were set to move higher, with Dow futures up 0.8 percent to 11,365 while S&P 500 futures were 0.9 percent higher at 1,186.50.

Market optimism was fueled after a highly anticipated speech by Bernanke at a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. While he announced no new economic stimulus measures â¿¿ as some investors had hoped â¿¿ he did leave open the possibility of more action if another recession looks likely. He also emphasized the strengths of the U.S. economy and said the job market will recover in the long run.

"People came to realize that Bernanke is very confident about the economy," said Jackson Wong, vice president at Tanrich Securities in Hong Kong. "People were reluctant to get into the market. Now they are jumping back in."

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 percent to close at 8,851.35 amid news that the country's ruling party elected Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda its new chief, paving the way for him to be the next prime minister. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.5 percent to 4,263.30 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.4 percent to 19,865.11.

Hong Kong-listed Sinopec, Asia's largest refiner by capacity, jumped 6.7 percent after announcing that first-half profit rose 12 percent as higher oil, gas and chemicals revenues helped offset a loss in its refining business. The results for the company, also known as China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., were better than analysts had forecast.

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