In France, the CAC-40 edged up 0.1 percent to close at 3,705, while Germany's DAX rose the same rate to 7,716. The FTSE index of leading British shares moved up 0.3 percent at 6,122.

Wall Street struggled to find a direction. By midday, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.1 percent to 13,483, while the broader Standard & Poor's index dropped 0.1 percent to 1,471.

Earlier in the day, the Nikkei closed 1.4 percent higher at 10,801.57.

But not all Asian markets rallied, hemmed in by concerns about inflation in China. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.4 percent to 23,264.07. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.5 percent to 1,996.67. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.3 percent to 4,709.50. Benchmarks in Singapore and mainland China also fell while those in the Philippines and New Zealand rose.

Amid persistent concerns about the health of the world economy, energy prices fell.

Benchmark oil for February delivery was down 64 cents to $93.18 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Still, the euro was holding its own, rising 0.7 percent to $1.3354 after the European Central Bank's decision Thursday to leave its interest rate at the record low of 0.75 percent. In a press conference, ECB President Mario Draghi said the eurozone economy should start to grow again later this year.

___

Pamela Sampson contributed to this report from Bangkok.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

If you liked this article you might like

What's Behind the Surge in Energy Stocks

Hillary Clinton Says Prosecuting Individuals is Key to Wall Street Reform