HONG KONG - China led gains in global stocks Wednesday on hopes for a Hong Kong-Shenzhen stock trading link that would further open China's financial markets while Japan was powered by a blockbuster share sale.
In morning trade, France's CAC 40 was up 1.1 percent to 4,989.64 and Germany's DAX added 0.3 percent to 10,987.82. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 1 percent to 6,445.72.
U.S. stocks were poised to open higher: Both Dow and broader S&P 500 futures rose 0.1 percent.
The People's Bank of China posted an article on its website by Governor Zhou Xiaochuan in which he said a stock trading link between Hong Kong and China's second smaller exchange in Shenzhen would be launched this year. The article was amended at midday Wednesday to say that it was the text of a speech Zhou gave on May 27, before a stock market crash that threw into doubt Beijing's plans to widen access to its markets. Nevertheless, it boosted sentiment among investors, who were expecting the follow-up to last year's Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect to be delayed until next year. Stock exchange operator Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. said there is no agreement yet on the proposed second link; its shares jumped as much as 9 percent.
Chinese markets continued to rally in the afternoon even after the central bank's clarification and "this behavior suggests that the HK-Shenzhen Connect development was just one of the components of the rally," Gerry Alfonso of Shenwan Hongyuan Securities in Beijing wrote in a commentary. More details from China's latest five-year plan, an unprecedented meeting between the leaders of China and Taiwan and an upbeat report on China's services industry also supported shares, he said. "There were quite a few positive stories in the market today and despite some confusion the market reacted accordingly."
Shares of Japan Post jumped about 26 percent in their first day of trading after the company and its banking and insurance units raised a combined 1.44 trillion yen ($11.9 billion) in the world's biggest initial public offering of stock this year. The long awaited sale of shares in the state-owned company is the biggest since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holdings raised $25 billion in its IPO in September 2014. The Japan Post sale is meant to tease out some of the more than $14 trillion that Japanese have squirreled away in savings accounts.
The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China ended 4.3 percent higher at 3,459.64 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 2.2 percent to 23,053.57 after earlier rising more than 3 percent. China's smaller Shenzhen Composite also finished 5.1 percent higher at 2,089.29. Japan's Nikkei 225 advanced 1.3 percent to 18,926.01 and South Korea's Kospi edged up 0.2 percent to 2,052.77. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.1 percent to 5,242.30. Markets in Taiwan, India, Singapore and Thailand also rose.
A survey found that the country's service industries strengthened last month. The Caixin/Markit purchasing managers' index for October rose to 52 from a 14-month low of 50.5 in September, based on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 indicate contraction. China's service industries such as retailing and tourism have helped offset weakness in manufacturing amid a slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy.
Benchmark U.S. crude futures slipped 24 cents to $47.66 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added $1.76 to close at $47.90 a barrel in New York on Tuesday. Brent crude, which is a benchmark for international oils, fell 27 cents to $50.26 a barrel in London.
The dollar rose to 121.26 yen from 121.11 in the previous day's trading. The euro weakened to $1.0930 from $1.0961.