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Before the Bell: Global markets edge higher on Fed remarks

Liam Lahey

Upbeat corporate earnings and remarks made by the U.S. Federal Reserve's chairman Ben Bernanke helped to propel global markets higher on Thursday.

The Fed's decision to stand pat on further stimulus, despite a slowdown in job creation stateside, is being viewed with caution. Bernanke didn't rule out a third round of quantitative easing but it's clear he won't do so in the immediate future.

The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index was up 0.4 per cent at 258.08. London's FTSE 100 Index was up 0.7 per cent at 5757.46, Frankfurt's DAX was 0.4 per cent higher at 6729.19, and Paris's CAC-40 Index was up 0.5 per cent at 3248.23. The euro currency is presently fetching US$1.3257.

Asian bourses are also mostly up on Bernanke's comments. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.82 points to close at 9,561.83, South Korea's Kospi gained 0.10 percent, or 2.06 points, to 1,964.04 and Sydney was 0.34 per cent, or 14.8 points, higher at 4,375.2. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.79 per cent, or 163.42 points, to 20,809.71 and the Shanghai Composite Index was flat, edging down 2.17 points to 2,404.70.

On Wall Street, U.S. futures are pointing to a higher open. Futures for the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq 100 are rising 0.2 to 0.3 per cent. There's a number of reports on the economic data calendar for Thursday that investors will be eyeing including a U.S. jobless claims report and a U.S. pending home sales report.

Here at home, the S&P/TSX Composite Index closed Wednesday at 12,111.06, up 130.96 points, or 1.09 per cent. Canada's junior Venture exchange rose 5.35 points or 0.39 per cent, to 1,371.12. The Canadian dollar is trading at US$1.0168.