International markets roundup

A roundup of trading on major world markets:

NEW YORK - Wall Street has risen robustly for a second straight session, helped by higher oil prices and investors becoming more comfortable with the prospect of an interest rate hike as early as next month.

Combining Tuesday and Wednesday's performances, the S&P 500 has gained two per cent, its strongest two-day run since early March.

The energy sector led the way in the latest session, up 1.51 per cent as oil prices rose toward $US50 ($A69.62) a barrel.

That followed a report of a larger-than-expected drop in US crude inventories, adding to expectations that a steep sell-off in the commodity may be over.

Comments from policymakers in recent days and upbeat US economic data have raised expectations that the Federal Reserve could pull the trigger on a rate increase much sooner than previously thought.

"What you're seeing is a recognition that this is going to happen and investors are getting more comfortable with it," said Kurt Brunner, a portfolio manager at Swarthmore Group in Philadelphia.

"There's a recognition that economic growth is okay."

The Dow Jones industrial average added 0.82 per cent to end at 17,851.51 points and the S&P 500 gained 0.7 per cent to 2,090.54.

The Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.7 per cent to 4,894.89.

LONDON - Easing concerns over several major global risks have helped stock markets rise robustly for a second day, underpinned by gains in oil and metals prices and data showing the US economy can deal with a rise in interest rates.

Traders say several polls showing Britain will vote strongly to stay in the European Union in a referendum in June have done more than just support sterling, up five per cent in trade-weighted terms from lows hit in April.

A new debt deal for Greece also looked to have headed off the risk of another round of uncertainty over its finances and even its future in the eurozone after a funding crisis a year ago, pushing European stock markets higher across the board.

"The agreement should ensure that Greece remains little source of negative headline risk throughout the rest of the year," Deutsche Bank analysts said in a note.

"The big question over the next 12 months is how quickly capital controls can be lifted and the economy can gradually return towards a path to normality."

London's FTSE rose 43.59 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 6,262.85 while Germany's DAX gained 147.90 points, or 1.47 per cent, to 10,205.21.

HONG KONG - Asian shares in the main performed very strongly inspired by solid overnight gains in the US and European markets.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.8 per cent, their best one-day gain since late March.

Tokyo's Nikkei lifted 258.59 points, or 1.57 per cent, to close at 16,757.35 as exporters got a boost from a weaker yen.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 537.62 points, or 2.71 per cent, to end at 20,368.05 - on their best day in at least six weeks.

But China's Shanghai surrended early gains and slipped 4.33 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 3,059.23 amid concerns about sluggish growth in the world's second-largest economy.

Upbeat US home sales figures supported the view that the world's largest economy may be strong enough for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in coming months - helping assuage invester fears.

"There appears to be a consensus among Fed policymakers that they have to put a rate hike back on the table because markets had been pricing in almost no chance of a rate hike," said Koichi Yoshikawa, executive director of financial markets at Standard Chartered Bank.

WELLINGTON - The S&P/NZX 50 Index gained 35.38 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 6,908.04.

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