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China Stocks Fall, Europe Stocks Rise  03/05 06:02

   Asian stock markets were mostly lower Thursday after China cut its economic 
growth target while European shares rose as investors awaited an ECB meeting 
that may provide more details on its massive stimulus program.

   HONG KONG (AP) -- Asian stock markets were mostly lower Thursday after China 
cut its economic growth target while European shares rose as investors awaited 
an ECB meeting that may provide more details on its massive stimulus program.

   KEEPING SCORE: European shares were higher in early trading. France's CAC-40 
rose 0.5 percent to 4,942.08 and Germany's DAX climbed 0.6 percent to 
11,454.87. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent to 6,928.54. U.S. stocks were 
poised to open slightly higher, with Dow futures up 0.1 percent to 18,099.00. 
Broader S&P 500 futures edged up 0.1 percent to 2,098.00.

   CHINA TARGET: The communist leaders of the world's second-biggest economy 
announced an official growth target of about 7 percent, down from 7.5 percent 
last year. Premier Li Keqiang said in a report to China's ceremonial national 
legislature that the goal was part of overall efforts to create a "moderately 
prosperous society," though he added that maintaining stable growth would be 
more difficult. The new official benchmark comes after China's economy expanded 
7.4 percent in 2014, its slowest pace in nearly a quarter century.

   THE QUOTE: Analysts said markets had mostly factored the new GDP growth 
target into prices but the news would still affect Asian trading. The target is 
"an enviable number no doubt for most major economies," said Nicholas Teo at 
CMC Markets in Singapore. But "from a domestic point of view, if I were a small 
business owner in China, 7 percent growth feels almost like a recession if I've 
been enjoying double digit numbers the last five years."

   ASIA'S DAY: Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.1 percent to 24,193.04 and the 
Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China lost 1 percent to 3,248.48. The 
S&P/ASX 200 in Australia, where commodity producers are highly dependent on 
Chinese demand, spent most of the day in the red and ended practically 
unchanged at 5,904.20. Indexes in Singapore, Taiwan and New Zealand also 
dropped. Other major Asian benchmarks had anemic gains, with Japan's Nikkei 225 
up 0.3 percent to 18,751.84. South Korea's Kospi ended flat 1,998.38

   EUROPEAN EASING: Investors will be watching for any news from the European 
Central Bank's regular meeting, held this week in Cyprus. ECB President Mario 
Draghi is scheduled to brief reporters and may give more details on its 1 
trillion euro stimulus program aimed at reviving the continent's stagnant 
economies. Many details have already emerged but investors will be looking for 
word on how the stimulus will work over the coming months, including when 
sovereign debt purchases will get underway.

   ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 23 cents to $51.76 a barrel in electronic 
trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.01 to settle 
at $51.53 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was 
up 36 cents to $60.93 in London.

   CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 119.91 yen from 119.73 yen in the previous 
session. The euro fell to $1.1046 from $1.1077.


(AG)


 
 
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