Wall Street gained as better-than-expected data from China underpinned optimism about the outlook as investors geared up for a fresh round of US corporate earnings.
In 1.18pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.2 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.5 percent. In 1.03pm trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 0.4 percent. The Nasdaq touched a record high 5,564.25.
"We've shifted from that exuberance post the election and the rotation into some of the sectors and now we are entering a wait-and-see mode with earnings knocking at the front door," Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Equity Capital Markets in News York, told Reuters.
US banks JPMorgan, Bank of America and Wells Fargo are scheduled to report their latest quarterly earnings on Friday.
"Earnings may be the pivot to move things higher," Hogan noted.
In the Dow, gains in shares of American Express and those of Caterpillar, recently up 2.5 percent and 2.2 percent respectively, outweighed falls in shares of IBM and those of Procter & Gamble, down 0.8 percent and 0.7 percent respectively.
In the latest US economic data, the National Federation of Independent Business's index climbed 7.4 points in December to 105.8, the highest in 12 years.
"Rising confidence adds to the economy's upward momentum," Jim O'Sullivan, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York, said in a note, Bloomberg reported. At the same time, the "NFIB membership appears to be disproportionately Republican, so it is possible that the data will start overstating strength, opposite the pattern during the Obama administration."
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the day with a 0.1 percent advance from the previous close. France's CAC 40 Index edged 0.01 percent higher, Germany's DAX Index increased 0.2 percent, while the UK's FTSE 100 Index rose 0.5 percent to close at a record high.
Metals including copper and iron ore advanced after China's producer price index climbed at the fastest pace in five years, exceeding expectations. The producer price index rose 5.5 percent in December from a year earlier, the most since September 2011, compared with a 3.3 percent increase in November, the National Statistics Bureau said.
"Reflation continues in the factory sector," Julia Wang, an economist at HSBC Holdings in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg. "The stable CPI suggests that the reflation is confined mostly in the industrial sector and hasn't filtered into the real economy. So the PBOC would possibly not respond to it until inflation expands to the real economy."
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