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Stocks gain on Wall Street

Stocks on Wall Street edged forward, regaining early losses, as investors continued to focus on continuing discussions over a Greek debt-restructuring deal.

At the close (10am NZ time), the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 5.75 points, or less than 0.1%, to 12,883.95, its highest level since May 19, 2008.

The S&P 500 index finished at 1349.96, a rise of 0.2%, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.4% to 2915.86.

Energy stocks dragged the broader market lower as crude-oil prices sharply pared back from their morning gains.

Exxon Mobil fell 0.6%. Financial and technology stocks offset some of the declines. Bank of America gained 3.6% to lead the Dow components, while Hewlett-Packard rose 1.8%.

Other markets: Europe down, Asia up
European markets saw modest gains evaporate into the closing bell on concerns that the European Central Bank hadn't yet decided on whether it would contribute to a Greek debt restructuring deal.

The Stoxx Europe 600 finished with a slight decline of 0.2% to 263.01.

The UK’s FTSE 100 index closed 0.2% lower at 5875.93, Germany’s DAX 30 settled 0.1% lower at 6748.76 and France’s CAC 40 index 0.1% to 3410.00.

Asian markets rose on progress toward a debt-restructuring deal in Greece, while an upbeat earnings outlook from Toyota Motor aided car makers in Tokyo.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average advanced 1.1% to 9015.59, it highest close in more than three months.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed 1.5% to 21,018.46, its highest closing level in six months. Korea's Kospi rose 1.1% to 2003.73, its highest close in more than six months.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4% to 4290.7, while China's Shanghai Composite gained 2.4% to 2347.53. India's Sensex rose 0.5% to 17,707.32.

Commodities: Oil up, gold down
Oil futures pared their gains after a government report showed US oil inventories rising slightly while demand weakened.

Light, sweet crude oil futures for March delivery settled 30US, or 1.5%, up at $US99.84 a barrel in New York. Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange, rose $1.16, or 0.1%, to $US117.39 a barrel.

Gold futures traded lower after a strong performance a day earlier and as the euro slipped from its highs, pushing the US dollar marginally higher against major currencies.

Gold for April delivery settled $US17.10, or 1%, lower at $US1731.30 an ounce in New York. Earlier, it traded as high as $US1754.80 and as low as $US1729.10.

Currencies: Euro rises
The US dollar turned down, pushing the euro back towards a two-month high as news reports challenged hopes that the European Central Bank may be the clinch to an agreement on a second bailout for Greece.

The euro rose to $US1.3273, off a two-month high of $US1.3288 and from $US1.3256 on Tuesday.

The UK pound slipped to $US1.5825 from $US1.5901. Against the Japanese yen, the dollar rose to ¥77, from ¥76.79 late on Tuesday.

The Australian dollar rose to its highest level since August then drifted back to $US1.0795 from $US1.0799 on Tuesday, when it jumped after the Reserve Bank of Australia unexpectedly kept its key cash rate on hold.

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