World stocks rose modestly Monday as improved U.S. indicators eased some worries about the strength of the economic recovery. Near-record gold prices, however, show sentiment remains tense as investors seek safe assets.
An increase in U.S. corporate spending and a big jump in orders for manufactured goods, both reported Friday, saw Wall Street rally before the close and boosted Asian and European markets early Monday.
Britain's FTSE 100 benchmark index was up 0.1 percent at 5,601.84 while Germany's DAX was 0.2 percent higher at 6,310.35. France's CAC-40 was up 0.2 percent at 3,789.25.
Asian indexes booked larger gains by the close and Wall Street was expected to open slightly higher after ending last week sharply higher. Dow futures were up 0.2 percent at 10,801.00 and Standard & Poor's futures rose 0.1 percent to 1,143.80.
The Dow has risen 8.4 percent so far in September as investors scaled back their fears of a double-dip recession in the world's largest economy. Still, the index is only up 4.1 percent for the year and remains 3.1 percent below its 2010 high reached on April 26.
Despite Monday's stock rises, gold prices were near a record high after briefly touching $1,300 an ounce, with strong demand for the safe-haven metal suggesting underlying doubt about the economic recovery.
Some analysts say stock markets could reverse recent gains if U.S. consumer confidence figures on Tuesday and second quarter economic growth on Thursday are disappointing. Japan, which reported a sixth consecutive month of slowing export growth on Monday, also releases a slew of indicators this week including its "tankan" business confidence survey.
"Going up too fast is never considered prudent," brokerage India Infoline said in a market report. "Key regions like the U.S., Europe and Japan are just limping along. If markets rise on one good statistics one day, there is always a chance they might fall on a bad report some other day."
Speculation has mounted that the Federal Reserve could in coming months move to boost the economy by buying assets from banks, thereby lowering interest rates in credit markets. That has weighed on the dollar, particularly in its value against the euro, which on Monday traded at 1.3442, down from the five-month high of $1.3492 it hit late Friday in New York.
In corporate news, consumer products maker Unilever NV saw its shares rise 2 percent after it said it had agreed to buy U.S. beauty products company Albert Culver for $3.7 billion.
Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average climbed 1.4 percent to 9,603.14 with exporters advancing as investors bet the central bank will try to weaken the yen with further monetary easing when it meets next week. The yen hit fresh 15-year highs against the U.S. dollar this month, and led the government to intervene in currency markets to weaken the yen for the first time in six years.
The dollar was up to 84.23 yen from 84.17 yen on Friday.
Missing out on the gains in Tokyo was Japan's consumer finance sector, which wilted on a Nikkei report that Takefuji Corp. was preparing to file for bankruptcy protection. Rival lenders Acom Co. and Promise Co. both plunged by about 12 percent.
South Korea's Kospi added 0.8 percent to 1,860.83 and Hong Kong Hang's Seng advanced 1 percent to 22,182.80. China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.4 percent to 2,627.97.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.6 percent to 4,675.40 as higher metal prices lifted miners. BHP Billiton Ltd. added 1.6 percent and rival Rio Tinto Ltd. gained 2.1 percent. Markets in India, Taiwan and Singapore also climbed while Malaysia and Vietnam dropped.
In New York on Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 197.84, or 1.9 percent, to close at 10,860.26. The Dow has risen 8.4 percent in September, but is only up 4.1 percent for the year and is still 3.1 percent below its 2010 high reached on April 26.
Benchmark crude for November delivery was up 7 cents at $76.56 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.31 to settle at $76.49 a barrel on Friday.