BANGKOK -- World stock markets mostly rose Thursday as investors kept their sights on a possible improvement in China's economy.
A key survey of Chinese manufacturing activity rose to a three-month high in October, easing concerns that China might experience an abrupt economic "hard landing" rather than a gradual slowdown. The survey, released Wednesday, showed that industrial production continues to shrink, but not as sharply as in the past.
"There are positive signs pointing to further gains ahead, with new orders improving and manufacturers finally reporting that they are running down inventories of unsold goods," analysts at Capital Economics said in a market commentary.
Britain's FTSE rose 0.5 percent to 5,836.92. Germany's DAX gained 0.8 percent to 7,249.23 and France's CAC-40 added 0.9 percent to 3,454.19.
Wall Street appeared headed for a day of gains, with Dow Jones industrial futures rising 0.4 percent to 13,078 and S&P 500 futures adding 0.6 percent to 1,413.20.
Asian stock markets finished mostly higher. Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 1.1 percent to close at 9,055.20 _ a one-month high. A weakening yen helped to boost export shares.
South Korea's Kospi rose 0.6 percent to 1,924.50. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.1 percent to 4,510.50. Benchmarks in Singapore, and the Philippines also rose. Stocks in Taiwan and New Zealand fell. Mainland Chinese shares also finished lower: the Shanghai Composite shed 0.7 percent to 2,101.58 and the Shenzhen Composite Index lost 1 percent to 858.04.
Japanese steelmakers benefited from the brightening investment mood. JFE Holdings jumped 5.3 percent and Kobe Steel surged 6 percent. South Korea's SK Hynix, the world's second-largest maker of computer memory chips, rose 1.3 percent a day after reporting a small net profit.
More evidence of an improving outlook for the global economy could come later Thursday, when the U.S. government releases U.S. durable goods orders for September. Economists expect the data to show improvement.
The U.S. Federal Reserve announced no new steps at the end of a two-day meeting Wednesday, but many economists think that the Fed will provide more assistance at its last meeting of the year on Dec. 11-12.
The Fed said the economy is still expanding moderately but that growth has been slow and unemployment remains elevated.
Stocks on Wall Street fell Wednesday, but the losses were not as steep as the day before amid a disappointing corporate earnings season.
Apple, Procter & Gamble and Sprint Nextel report quarterly financial results on Thursday. U.S. third-quarter GDP figures will be released Friday.
Benchmark oil for December delivery was up 84 cents to $86.56 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 94 cents to finish at $85.73 per barrel on Wednesday.
In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3009 from $1.2944 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar rose to 80.19 yen from 79.94 yen.
Follow Pamela Sampson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pamelasampson