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World markets recover as German court backs bailout; Swiss franc steady at pegged euro rate
LONDON (AP) ' Global stocks rebounded Wednesday from the previous day's steep sell-off as investor sentiment was buoyed by a German court decision backing the country's participation in European bailouts. The Swiss franc, meanwhile, hovered around the level it was pegged at.
Though the German court said the government has to consult lawmakers in future bailouts, the decision has helped remove one potential hurdle standing in the way of a comprehensive solution to Europe's debt crisis.
"A ruling in the German Constitutional Court to reject a series of lawsuits aimed at blocking German participation in eurozone bailouts was well received by the market," said Joshua Raymond, chief market strategist at City Index.
In Europe, Germany's DAX was up 2.1 percent at 5,305 while France's CAC-40 rose 2.3 percent to 3,036. Britain's FTSE 100 index was 1.9 percent higher at 5,254. The euro was also supported by the German court decision, trading 0.3 percent higher at $1.4040.
Wall Street was poised for an advance at the open, too ' Dow futures were up 0.7 percent at 11,208 while the broader Standard & Poor's 500 futures rose 0.8 percent to 1,174.
There's little in the way of scheduled economic news in Europe and the U.S. over the rest of the day though the Federal Reserve's assessment of economic conditions in the U.S. ' the so-called Beige Book ' could muster some interest, a day ahead of a keynote speech from President Barack Obama.
The president is set to outline measures to boost employment in the U.S. The unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent after another disappointing month in August.
Concerns over the state of the U.S. economy have combined with fears over Europe's debt crisis over the past month to send financial markets spinning.
Newsflow connected to either will likely dominate markets for some time to come.
Investors will closely watch the European Central Bank's monthly interest rate decision and the subsequent press conference from its president Jean-Claude Trichet.
In the currency markets, traders were assessing the aftermath of the Swiss National Bank's surprise decision Tuesday to peg the national currency at 1.20 francs per euro in an attempt to rein in the export-sapping appreciation of the currency. It said it would use whatever resources it has available to maintain that ceiling.
The announcement prompted a 9 percent reverse in the value of the Swiss franc Tuesday. That retreat has held Wednesday, with the euro flat at 1.2059 francs. The dollar, which was similarly buoyed, was up a further 0.4 percent at 0.8585 franc.
Lee Hardman, an analyst at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, said the decision to announce a peg has initially helped support sentiment in the markets by potentially adding significant liquidity into financial markets.
However, he added that the move may eventually be seen as another chapter in a global currency war, where countries seek to get an advantage by manipulating their currencies lower.
"Switzerland's shift away from a free floating currency has heightened speculation over which countries could be next to attempt to devalue their own currency as a means to boost growth at others expense," Hardman said.
With the dollar near a record low against the yen, there are many in the markets that think the Japanese may soon try to ease the pressure on its exporters by intervening in the markets itself. Japan's monetary authorities have a history of intervening in the markets, most recently in conjunction with other central banks around the world following March's devastating earthquake and tsunami.
By late morning London time, the dollar was 0.5 percent lower at 77.17 yen.
The recovery in equities began earlier in Asia.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index, which on Tuesday fell to its lowest level since April 2009, advanced 2 percent to 8,763.41.
Australian shares did particularly well after figures showed the economy expanded 1.2 percent in the quarter through June, rebounding from a 0.9 percent contraction in the previous three months. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 zoomed higher by 2.7 percent at 4,183.40.
South Korea's Kospi clawed back the prior day's losses to surge 3.8 percent to 1,833.46.
Mainland Chinese shares gained, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index up 1.8 percent to 2,516.09. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index advanced 2.4 percent to 1,111.23.
The perkier stock market tone also supported oil prices, with benchmark oil for October delivery up 68 cents $86.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.