The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia also added to promising economic news by reporting that manufacturing in the region expanded at a faster pace this month as employment increased. The regional Fed bank's economic index increased to 7.3 from 6.8 last month, although it missed expectations for a reading of 10, according to Thomson Reuters. In Europe, France inspired investor confidence after successfully auctioning off 7.965 billion euros of bills. The country held its first longer-term bond auction since the credit rating downgrade by Standard & Poor's last Friday. The rating agency's announcement seemed to have little effect on French bond values as yields fell Thursday. Spain also successfully sold longer-term notes at its first auctions since S&P's downgrade. Spanish yields fell by1.572% on 10-year notes, while inching higher on bonds maturing in 2016. Germany's DAX closed 0.9% higher while London's FTSE was up 0.5%. Japan's Nikkei Average settled 1% higher and Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 1.3%.
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March oil futures fell 19 cents to $100.57 a barrel after the American Petroleum Institute reported late Wednesday that U.S. crude oil inventories unexpectedly dropped last week. February gold futures fell $5.40 to 1654.50 an ounce. The dollar index was dropping 0.4%. The benchmark 10-year Treasury was falling 23/32, increasing the yield to 1.979%. -- Written by Chao Deng and Kaitlyn Kiernan in New York. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Chao Deng. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to: