European shares advance

LONDON: Europe's main equity markets advanced Monday after bumper gains in Tokyo, as optimism grew about the outlook for the economy and corporate earnings.

Japanese shares soared for a ninth straight day on Monday, notching up the longest winning streak since 1988.

In late morning European trade, London's FTSE 100 index of top shares rose 0.39 percent to 4,594.54 points.

The Paris CAC 40 increased 0.94 percent to 3,398.32 and Frankfurt's DAX 30 was up 1.29 percent to 5,296.39 points near the half-way stage.

The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 index of leading eurozone shares gained 1.36 percent at 2,617.86 points.

On the foreign exchange market, the European single currency rose to 1.4245 dollars.

"The equity markets continue their march higher and the FTSE is on the cusp of matching its record of eleven straight gains in a row," said Capital Spreads analyst Simon Denham.

The Frankfurt stock market was also boosted by news of buoyant consumer confidence in Germany, the biggest economy in the eurozone.

Despite the worst economic crisis since 1945, German consumers are ever more confident about the future and willing to part with their hard-earned cash, a closely-watched survey said on Monday.

The GfK institute's consumer confidence index rose to an estimated 3.5 points for August from a revised 3.0 points in July, it said in a statement, raising hopes for a consumer-led boost to the ailing economy.

In addition on Monday, European energy and mining companies won support from higher commodity prices.

"European markets headed higher on Monday with commodities leading the way as investors looked to consolidate financials," said analyst Joshua Raymond at financial spread-betting firm City Index.

"The energy and mining sectors have led the markets higher on stronger oil and copper prices and this has helped to offset the selling that we have seen in the banking and real estate sectors."

In London, shares in British publisher Pearson rallied 9.40 percent to 663 pence after the group reported a 12.8-percent rise in first half net profit.

But Pearson, which publishes educational books and the Financial Times newspaper, added that market conditions were difficult and likely to remain so.

In Asia on Monday, Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei index ended at a six-week closing high above the key 10,000-point level, reflecting solid gains on other overseas markets.

Hong Kong share prices closed 1.35 percent higher at a 10-month peak, bolstered by gains on Wall Street and continued liquidity, dealers said.

Investors may become more cautious later in the week when major companies including Nissan, Honda, Hitachi, Toshiba and Sony will release quarterly earnings results, dealers said.

Before the weekend, Wall Street shares drifted mostly higher as markets mulled disappointing earnings reports a day after a powerful rally that took the market to new highs this year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.26 percent to finish at 9,093.24 points on Friday.

Stocks zigzagged in choppy trade as investors took profits after better-than-expected earnings reports had sent the major indices to their highest levels in months on Thursday.