Asian Stocks Up, Japan's Nikkei Extends Gains

By PAMELA SAMPSON

BANGKOK (AP) â¿¿ World stock markets rose Tuesday as investors looked ahead to U.S. corporate earnings, but Japan's benchmark index finished marginally lower, ending a four-session rally sparked by the Bank of Japan's bold program to revive the country's moribund economy.

The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo posted strong gains last week after the head of Japan's central bank, Haruhiko Kuroda, unveiled aggressive action to shake Japan out of nearly two decades of growth-crippling deflation. The bank will pump huge amounts of money into the economy via government bond purchases and pursue a 2 percent inflation target in order to spark lending and spending.

But the rally ran out of stream Tuesday and the Nikkei edged down slightly to close at 13,192.35. The Japanese yen neared 100 to the dollar, its weakest since May 2009, before trimming its losses.

In early European trading, Britain's FTSE rose 0.5 percent to 6,306.03. Germany's DAX rose 0.4 percent to 7,694.96. France's CAC-40 gained 0.7 percent to 3,690.82. Wall Street futures were slightly positive. Dow Jones industrial futures added 0.1 percent to 14,572 and S&P 500 futures gained 0.2 percent to 1,561.70.

With Japan's monetary battle plan now laid out, investors are turning to quarterly earnings reports from major U.S. companies. The reporting season began in earnest Monday when Alcoa, a major maker of aluminum, turned in a mixed report. Its earnings were ahead of expectations but its revenue missed forecasts. Later this week, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase announce their first-quarter results.

Good performances from banks could boost confidence among investors, said Evan Lucas of IG Markets.

"Credit growth is the one thing that people are struggling to see in the U.S. If you see that, it means there is a bit of stability coming through to the underlying economy," Lucas said.

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