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World stock markets rally after figures show Chinese economic slowdown is milder than feared

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LONDON — World stock markets rose Wednesday after Chinese economic figures showed the slowdown in the first quarter was less severe than expected.

Investors took heart from the fact that the world's second-largest economy expanded 7.4 percent from a year earlier. While the growth was the slowest since the third quarter of 2012, it was better than the average forecast of 7.3 percent growth.

Also helping were U.S. data showing an increase in industrial output and home building in March. Among corporate news, Yahoo saw its shares jump 5 percent after it reported a strong gain in its Asian operations. That helped offset disappointment over weak earnings at Bank of America.

Germany's DAX rose 1.6 percent to close at 9,317.82 and France's CAC 40 gained 1.4 percent to 4,405.66. Britain's FTSE 100 climbed 0.7 percent to 6,584.17.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.6 percent at 16,362.92 while the S&P 500 was up 0.6 percent at 1,853.48.

PHOTO: People stand at a barricade at the regional administration building that they had seized earlier in Donetsk, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Several government buildings have fallen to mobs of Moscow loyalists in recent days as unrest spreads across the east of the country. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
People stand at a barricade at the regional administration building that they had seized earlier in Donetsk, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Several government buildings have fallen to mobs of Moscow loyalists in recent days as unrest spreads across the east of the country. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Earlier, In Asia, Japanese stocks were still in recovery mode after last week's global rout in technology shares.

The Nikkei 225 index jumped 3 percent to 14,417.68 as a weaker yen boosted exporter stocks and Softbank Corp. shares surged 8.5 percent after Chinese e-commerce Alibaba Group Holding Co., in which it holds a 37 percent stake, reported strong earnings.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 0.1 percent to 22,696.01 and South Korea's Kospi was steady at 1,992.21. The Shanghai Composite added 0.2 percent.

Markets also rose in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, but fell in India.

The price of oil was volatile as Ukraine took action against pro-Russian separatists in its east. Having traded higher earlier, the benchmark U.S. crude contract for May delivery was down 27 cents to $103.48 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In currencies, the dollar was up 0.4 percent at 102.30 yen while the euro was flat at $1.3817.

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