AMSTERDAM (AP) — Positive economic news from the European Central Bank and Germany, combined with promises of more monetary easing in Japan, helped stock indexes in those countries lead most markets around the world higher Friday.
U.S. stocks rose in early trading, helped by a strong quarterly earnings report from Procter & Gamble.
In Japan, stocks were galvanized by a further drop in the value of the yen, which is expected to help big exporters like Sony. The Nikkei index surged 2.9 percent to 10,926.67, its highest close since April 30, 2010.
The European Central Bank announced Friday that banks were expected to pay back emergency loans at a faster-than-expected clip, implying that the outlook is improving or the likelihood of disaster scenarios is receding. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, ECB President Mario Draghi repeated the continent's economy appears to be stabilizing and he expects recovery later this year.
Meanwhile, in Germany, business sentiment as measured by the Ifo index rose to its highest level since June, as executives said order backlogs are rising.
The Ifo report "nicely illustrates the green shoots in the German economy," said ING senior economist Carsten Brzeski in Brussels.
"Even if the current harsh winter weather might delay the blossoming somewhat, growth should return, leaving the contraction of the fourth quarter quickly behind."
Germany's DAX ended Friday 1.42 percent higher at 7,857 points, the strongest performer in Europe. France's CAC-40 was up 0.7 percent to 3,778.