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World Markets Up as Japan Breaks Record02/22 05:02

   World markets advanced and Japan's Nikkei 225 share benchmark surged to an 
all-time high on Thursday, bypassing its previous record set in December 1989.

   BANGKOK (AP) -- World markets advanced and Japan's Nikkei 225 share 
benchmark surged to an all-time high on Thursday, bypassing its previous record 
set in December 1989.

   Tokyo's benchmark closed at 39,098.68 on Thursday. Its previous record was 
38,915.87, set just before Japan's bubble economy collapsed in the early 1990s.

   The future for the S&P 500 was up 1.1% after Nvidia's shares jumped 13.2% in 
pre-market trading. The Dow's future was up 0.3%.

   After markets closed Wednesday, Nvidia reported earnings and revenue that 
handily beat Wall Street forecasts. The chipmaker's revenue has tripled over 
the past year thanks to a surge in investor enthusiasm over artificial 

   In early European trading, Britain's FTSE 100 was little changed, at 
7,661.95. Germany's DAX climbed 1.2% to 17,320.23 and the CAC 40 in Paris rose 
0.7% to 7,869.99.

   The Nikkei's strong performance has been driven largely by strong buying by 
foreign investors who account for the majority of trading volume on the Tokyo 

   Record gains in corporate earnings have enhanced the appeal of shares in 
Japanese companies. The weakness of the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar 
has also attracted investors, despite prolonged weakness in the economy, which 
slipped back into a technical recession late last year

   Elsewhere in Asia, most markets logged solid gains.

   Chinese markets benefited from reports that stock exchanges in Shanghai and 
Shenzhen froze accounts of a major hedge fund after it dumped 2.57 billion yuan 
($360 million) in shares in just one minute on Monday.

   China also banned major institutional investors from selling equity holdings 
at the open and close of each trading day.

   The moves appeared to encourage investors who have remained leery about 
earlier efforts to prop up the markets. The Shanghai Composite index gained 
1.3% to 2,988.36 and the Shenzhen Composite was also up 1.3%.

   Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 1.5% to 16,742.95.

   Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged less than 0.1% higher, to 7,611.20, while the 
Kospi in Seoul added 0.4% to 2,664.27.

   On Wednesday, stocks ended mostly higher on Wall Street after a listless day 
of trading with big technology stocks again acting as a heavy weight on the 

   The S&P 500 rose 0.1% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average also eked out a 
0.1% gain after losing ground most of the day.

   The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 0.3%.

   Technology stocks drove much of the market's rally that brought it to record 
highs just last week. The sector is also showing some of the strongest earnings 
growth. Lopsided contributions from some of the bigger companies in the sector, 
however, have raised questions about whether the gains were overdone.

   The Federal Reserve released minutes from its latest meeting in January that 
showed most officials are worried about moving too fast to cut their benchmark 
interest. The central bank left the rate alone for the fourth time in a row at 
that meeting. Investors have all but lost hope that the central bank will cut 
rates at its March meeting and are looking for the first rate cut to come in 

   Investors have to wait until next week for another key update on inflation. 
That's when the government will release its monthly report on personal 
consumption and expenses, the Fed's preferred measure of inflation.

   Separate measures for consumer and wholesale prices in January show that 
inflation didn't cool as much as anticipated. That prompted investors to shift 
expectations for rate cuts from March to June. A weak report on retail sales 
added to the disappointing inflation data and raised concerns that stubborn 
inflation is inflicting more pain on consumers.

   In other trading Thursday, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 34 cents to 
$78.25 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 32 cents to 
$83.35 per barrel.

   The U.S. dollar was trading at 150.15 Japanese yen, down from 150.31 yen. 
The euro was at $1.0857, up from $1.0823.

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