Asia stocks cheered as merger frenzy spurs Wall St.

Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:57pm EST
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By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian share markets looked set for a bounce on Tuesday as Wall Street sped to historic highs amid more mergers buzz, while gold and oil prices extended their recent rallies.

The upbeat mood among investors in the United States and Europe might help calm nerves about China after talk of credit tightening knocked property shares there on Monday.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS added 0.1 percent while Australian stocks firmed 0.3 percent to reach their highest since mid-2008.

Nikkei futures were up 1 percent, improving the chances that the cash index .N225 will finally break back above the 15,000 barrier.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 hit an intra-day record as the Nasdaq punched to peaks last seen almost 14 years ago, when the technology bubble imploded.

The Dow .DJI closed up 0.64 percent, while the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.62 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC 0.69 percent. In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top regional shares added 0.64 percent.

A surprise improvement in German business morale added to optimism over the euro zone's recovery and helped lift European shares. An one-notch increase in Spain's sovereign debt rating by Moody's Investors Service Inc also helped stocks in Europe.

The latest U.S. economic data disappointed, but once again the weakness was put down to bad weather. Instead U.S. investors focused on a string of merger and acquisition activity that is pumping cash into the market and signaling growing confidence among business leaders.   Continued...

People walk past an electronic information board at the London Stock Exchange in the City of London October 11, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth