Upbeat Chinese manufacturing data buoys markets ahead of Fed

A woman walks past an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm showing the currency rate of the U.S. dollar that is traded at 113.01-02 yen in Tokyo, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Wednesday, lifted by upbeat manufacturing data from China and Japan. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Men look at an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm showing the currency rate of the U.S. dollar that is traded at 113.01-02 yen in Tokyo, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Wednesday, lifted by upbeat manufacturing data from China and Japan. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Men walk past an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm showing the currency rate of the U.S. dollar that is traded at 113.01-02 yen in Tokyo, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Wednesday, lifted by upbeat manufacturing data from China and Japan.(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
FILE - This Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, file photo, shows the facade of the New York Stock Exchange. European stock markets eked out some modest gains Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, after encouraging economic figures boosted hopes that the region's recovery is gathering pace. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
A TV shows Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listening to a question at Diet session, at a foreign exchange brokerage in Tokyo, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. Japanese officials have rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's suggestion that Tokyo is seeking to weaken the yen against the U.S. dollar to gain a trade advantage. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

LONDON — Solid Chinese manufacturing data helped shore up global stock markets on Wednesday ahead of the latest policy decision from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany's DAX was up 1 percent to 11,656 while the CAC 40 in France rose 1.4 percent to 4,813. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.6 percent higher at 7,142. U.S. stocks were poised for gains at the bell with both Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.8 percent.

FACTORY BACKDROP: The positive tone in markets was largely due to a survey showing Chinese manufacturing expanded in January at its fastest pace in two years as heavy government spending and a bank lending boom helped to keep economic activity steady headed into 2017. There were similar encouraging surveys for Japan and the 19-country eurozone, too.

US IN FOCUS: How stocks close out the day could hinge on a similar survey for the U.S. from the Institute for Supply Management. The survey kick starts a busy period on the U.S. data front, with the week culminating with Friday's nonfarm payrolls report for January. Strong economic news out of the U.S. prompted the Fed to raise its benchmark interest rate in December. No further rise is anticipated later, though traders will be interested to see the statement accompanying the decision.

ANALYST TAKE: "In the absence of a press conference with Chair Janet Yellen following today's announcement, investors will be left to pour over the statement that it released alongside the decision to see whether views have changed on the path of interest rates this year since the last meeting," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA. "Given that the Fed is none-the-wiser when it comes to President Donald Trump's spending and tax plans, I would imagine the views of policy makers will be unchanged since the middle of December and they will reiterate an intention to hike three times."

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 percent to 19,148.08 and the Kospi in South Korea jumped 0.6 percent to 2,080.48. Australia's S&P ASX 200 gained 0.6 percent to 5,653.20. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.2 percent to 23,318.39. The Sensex in India rose 1.4 percent to 28,033.43. Shares in Southeast Asia were mostly higher. Markets in mainland China and Taiwan were closed for the lunar new year holiday.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil gained 42 cents to $53.23 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, was up 46 cents to $56.04 a barrel.

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