European stocks rebounded firmly Thursday, lifting U.S. equity futures higher, as bargain-hunting investors return to global equity markets on the back of stronger domestic economic data and cheaper valuations.
The region-wide Stoxx Europe 600 index, the broadest measure of share prices, was marked 0.75% higher by mid-day in Frankfurt as investors lifted stocks from two-month lows after a solid Asia session. Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.08% to Wednesday's close, the lowest in five weeks, with financials and industrials driving the session's modest rebound. Germany's DAX performance index was 0.6% to the upside, led by gains for industrial engineering giant ThyssenKrupp AG (TKAMY) and preferred shares in the world's second-biggest carmaker, Volkswagen AG (VLKAY) .
Dow Jones Mini futures are also bouncing higher and were quoted 74 points, or 0.32% to the good at the start of European trading, while S&P mini futures 8.75 points, or 0.34% higher, from their Wednesday close, which ended the fourth consecutive session of declines and marked the worst day for the broadest measure of U.S. stocks since Sept. 5.
Investors will get a chance to test the market's underlying strength today with quarterly earnings from retail giants Wal-Mart (WMT) - Get Report and Best Buy Co. (BBY) - Get Report after stronger-than-expected retail sales data and modestly faster inflation underpinned bullish sentiment on growth in the world's biggest economy yesterday.
Still, markets remain concerned about over-valued equities and the near-term prospects of U.S. tax reform as House Republicans continue to criticise a Senate version of reforms that would delay corporate reductions and possibly remove the "individual mandate" provision -- which essentially compels Americans to purchase health insurance -- from the Affordable Care Act.
That said, economic and market optimism bled into Asia trading, where the Nikkei 225 notched a solid rebound of 1.47% into the close of trading and the broadest measure of regional shares, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index, rose 0.19% to again test the highest levels in a decade.
One of the region's biggest movers were shares in Tencent Holdings Ltd. (TCEHY) , which hit a record high Thursday after China's internet gaming giant -- and significant Snap Inc. (SNAP) - Get Report shareholder -- posted much stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings and pledge to stoke investment into its lucrative online content machine.
Tencent shares were marked 2.3% higher in Hong Kong trading to change hands at HK$391.80 after rising to a lifetime high of HK$398.60, valuing Asia's most expensive company at around $472 billion and extending its year-to-date gain past 107%.
Global oil prices slipped from their previous levels in overnight trading as the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a bigger-than-expected 1.9 million barrel increase in domestic crude stocks yesterday.
Brent crude futures for January delivery, the global benchmark for prices, were seen 0.12% lower at $61.58 per barrel while West Texas Intermediate crude contracts for the same month added 0.1% to $55.37 per barrel.
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