World stocks up as Apple result lifts tech shares

BANGKOK (AP) — World stocks rose Wednesday as investors stayed calm in the face of a possible debt default by Greece to search for good deals in technology shares boosted by stunning results from Apple Inc.

Benchmark crude rose to nearly $99 per barrel while the dollar rose against the yen but fell against the euro.

European shares followed their Asian counterparts higher. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent to 5,774.31. Germany’s DAX climbed 0.5 percent to 6,448.33 and France’s CAC-40 added 0.4 percent at 3,334.50.

After a session of slight losses Tuesday, Wall Street appeared headed for a higher opening. Dow Jones industrial futures rose 0.1 percent to 12,644 while S&P 500 futures added 0.2 percent to 1,314.40.

Asian stocks posted solid gains. The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo rose 1.1 percent to close at 8,883.69. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.1 percent to 1,952.23 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 1.1 percent to 4,271.30. Markets in Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan remained closed for Chinese New Year.

Japan’s powerhouse export sector got a lift from a moderation in the yen’s strength even as the country reported its first annual trade deficit since 1980. A strong yen, which hit multiple historic highs last year against the dollar, shrinks the value of overseas earnings when repatriated and makes Japanese products less competitive.

Honda Motor Corp. surged 3.8 percent. Mitsubishi Motor Corp. jumped 4.4 percent and Sony Corp. added 4.8 percent. Tire-maker Bridgestone Corp. added 4.2 percent.

Technology stocks were elevated after Apple Inc. reported earnings that sailed past analyst estimates. Apple said late Tuesday said it sold 37 million iPhones in the last three months of 2011, vastly exceeding estimates and propelling the company to record quarterly results.

That stellar performance reverberated throughout the global tech industry. South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc., which ranks No. 2 globally in flat screen televisions, jumped 4.1 percent. Hynix Semiconductor Inc., the world’s second-largest memory chip maker, added 1.9 percent.

In Australia, shares in Lynas Corp. Ltd. soared 5.1 percent after the company said it had secured the funding necessary to complete construction and start-up at its rare earths processing plant in Malaysia.

Stan Shamu of IG Markets in Melbourne said the gains in Asia suggested that investors were paying less attention to Greece, which is struggling to reach a deal with creditors to prevent a chaotic default on its massive debts. A default could trigger a financial crisis in Europe and likely beyond.

Greece is trying to get its creditors to swap Greek government bonds for new ones that have half the face value. Greece faces an important bond repayment deadline in March.

“To a large extent, traders are thinking that people are going to lose money either way in this deal, so it’s now about how we can move on,” Shamu said. Markets “are thinking more long-term. Encouraging data out of the U.S. has been good for sentiment. We also have China, which has been managing its economy very well.”

Benchmark oil for March delivery rose 8 cents to $99.03 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 63 cents to end at $98.95 per barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.

In currency trading, the euro rose to $1.3031 from $1.3021 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar rose to 77.98 yen from 77.73 yen.