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Markets muted despite Apple, Facebook

By PAN PYLAS and YURI KAGEYAMA
Associated Press LONDON (AP) - Solid earnings from Apple and Facebook helped shore up global markets on Thursday despite other disappointing earnings and an earlier hefty retreat in Tokyo.

As well as delivering forecast-busting numbers, Apple impressed investors in its after-hours statement Wednesday with news that it is earmarking an additional $30 billion for buying back its stock through next year. The move takes the total for that timeframe up to $90 billion and has helped the stock trade nearly 8 percent higher.

Concerns over the valuation of technology stocks have been a constant theme in financial markets over the past month and the numbers posted by Apple and Facebook helped put those to one side. Apple was the standout performer Monday,

"They have provided the much-needed reassurance that investors in tech stocks will have wanted," said Michael Hewson, senior market analyst at CMC Markets.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 0.4 percent at 6,703.00 while Germany's DAX rose 0.1 percent to 9,548.68. The CAC-40 in France ended 0.6 percent higher at 4,479.54.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.2 percent at 16,537 while the broader S&P 500 index rose 0.4 percent to 1,882. The tech-heavy Nasdaq index was 0.7 percent higher at 4,156.

U.S. economic data failed to have much of an impact on trading as solid orders for longer-lasting U.S. goods was offset by a surprisingly big 25,000 increase in weekly jobless claims.

Earlier, in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average underperformed badly, closing down 1 percent at 14,404.99 as talks over trade between President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe failed to yield a final trade agreement. Obama's state visit to Japan is the first by an American president in nearly 20 years.

Hideyuki Suzuki, general manager of the investment market research department at SBI Securities Co. in Tokyo, said no one expected an immediate deal, but players still had some hope for progress in the meeting between the leaders.

"If there had been great anticipation of a deal, then the drop would have been even bigger," Suzuki said.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea's Kospi inched down 0.1 percent to close at 1,998.34 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.2 percent to 22,562.80

Trading elsewhere was steady, with the euro up 0.1 percent at $1.3827 and the dollar 0.1 percent weaker at 102.35 yen. A barrel of benchmark New York crude was 49 cents higher at $101.93.

___

Kageyama contributed from Tokyo.

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

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