Asia Stocks Rise On Heels Of New Dow Record High

By PAMELA SAMPSON

BANGKOK (AP) â¿¿ World stock markets mostly gained Wednesday on the heels of a record high on Wall Street as traders waited for the latest Federal Reserve meeting minutes for insight into the U.S. economy's prospects.

Japan's stock market continued to rise on a wave of enthusiasm for the Bank of Japan's aggressive new approach to shaking the world's third-largest economy out of its two decade slump. The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo rose 0.7 percent to close at 13,288.13 â¿¿ its highest close in nearly five years.

European stocks rose in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.6 percent to 6,350.64. Germany's DAX added 0.9 percent to 7,706.63. France's CAC-40 advanced 0.9 percent to 3,703.87.

Wall Street appeared set for more gains, a day after the Dow Jones industrial average hit a new high. Dow futures rose 0.2 percent to 14,639. S&P 500 futures added 0.2 percent to 1,566.50.

Asian stocks finished mostly higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.8 percent to 22,034.56. South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.7 percent to 1,933.48. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2 percent to 4,968.

Investors are looking to the release later in the day of a transcript of last month's Federal Reserve policy meeting for insights into the Fed's latest views on the health of the U.S. economy.

"Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said this week that while the U.S. economy was significantly stronger than it was four years ago, it has yet to recover back to an acceptable state of health," said analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore.

Mainland Chinese stocks were mixed after China released trade data for March. The Shanghai Composite Index rose marginally to 2,226.13. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index lost 0.5 percent to 921.86.

Some experts said the official figures didn't match up with information available in Hong Kong about goods going in and out of China. The export figure, in particular, raised skepticism.

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