LONDON - Share markets made broad gains on Wednesday after China reported economic growth a touch above forecasts, a relief for investors who had feared a much weaker outcome.
China's economy grew 7.4 per cent in the first quarter, from a year earlier, pipping forecasts of 7.3 per cent. That was welcome news to many given whisper numbers nearer 7 per cent, following a string of soft numbers recently.
Other Chinese data for March was mixed, with industrial output a shade under estimates but retail sales picking up.
The relief rippled through Asian markets, with Japan's Nikkei ending up 3 per cent - its biggest gain since February. Hopes of more Bank of Japan stimulus also helped.
Bullish sentiment spread to Europe with the FTSE 100 and DAX opening up 0.8 and 0.9 per cent respectively and France's CAC 40 1.2 per cent higher.
Italy and Spain also rallied, with both up more than 1 per cent as they clawed back some of the 6-7 per cent they have given up over the last week.
"It (rises in European stocks) is just ripples continuing on from Asia," Rabobank emerging market economist Christian Lawrence said.
"China is still on a downward path on growth but clearly the market took some relief in that number ... our basic view is that it will be a gradual slowdown rather than a hard landing."
The mood had already been lifted by a late rally at the end of a rollercoaster session on Wall Street, thanks mainly to some solid earnings reports.
The Dow rose 0.55 per cent and the S&P 500 0.68 per cent. The Nasdaq lagged with a 0.29 per cent gain, stabilizing after recent sharp falls.
European focus was quickly switching to the day's slate of data releases. UK employment and earnings numbers and updated March inflation figures for the euro zone are all likely to feed the debate on how much ECB and Bank of England policies could potentially diverge this year.