Wall Street, banks boost Europe stocks

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Data also showed that Greece’s economy shrank 6.9 percent in the second quarter from the year before.

The euro also was seemingly unaffected by the French and Greek data, trading 0.3 percent higher at $1.4250.

Earlier in Asia, the session was far less volatile than of late.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.1 percent to 19,620.01. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.8 percent to 4,237.90, while benchmarks in New Zealand and Singapore also rose.

But Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average was lower — closing down 0.2 percent to 8,963.72 after spending the morning in positive territory. A stronger yen, which reduces the value of profits earned overseas, pummeled export shares.

The dollar is trading around the 76.50 yen mark, which is not far off the levels that prompted the Bank of Japan to intervene directly in the markets to stem the export-sapping appreciation of the yen.

Mainland Chinese shares, however, traded higher for a fourth day, with the absence of bad news helping boost sentiment, traders said. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.5 percent to 2,593.17 while the Shenzhen Composite Index gained 1 percent to 1,158.96.

Oil markets rallied after the positive U.S. retail data, with crude rising 85 cents to $86.57 a barrel.

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Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this story.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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