World stocks rise amid hopes downturn is bottoming

Asian stocks advanced Wednesday, with Tokyo's index up nearly 3 percent, as better-than-expected news about the U.S. and Chinese economies raised hopes the global downturn was nearing a bottom. European markets opened modestly higher. The upward swing followed Wall Street, where investors breathed a little easier after a surprise jump in home sales in December suggested the battered housing market might soon stabilize. Asian investors also were heartened by Wednesday's report pointing to possible recovery in Chinese manufacturing. While manufacturing shrank again in January, the contraction was less severe than in recent months and seen by some as a sign China's stimulus measures might be taking hold.

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