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U.S. stocks were poised to open little changed as investors weighed news from Libya and Japan and its possible impact on economic growth.

Stock futures trimmed early gains on news that a U.S. Air Force F-15E fighter jet crashed overnight in Libya and that smoke and steam were still rising from two reactors at Japan's quake-crippled nuclear plant.

S&P 500 futures rose 0.9 point. Dow Jones industrial average futures were up 17 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 4.75 points.

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Hopes that Japan's nuclear crisis may be coming under control supported most global stock markets, despite signs of discord over the military strikes in Libya and mounting expectations that interest rates in Europe will rise soon.

Japan's Nikkei posted significant gains on its first trading day of the week, reopening after a holiday on Monday. The Nikkei spiked 4.4 percent, or 401.57 points, to close 9,608.32. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.8 percent to 22,857.90.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.2 percent at 5,796 while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.4 percent to 3,920. Germany's DAX was more or less unchanged at 6,814.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top shares was 0.5 percent higher at 1,113.23 points after surging 1.8 percent in the previous session, buoyed by merger and acquisition news in the telecom sector.The MSCI global stocks index rose 2.2 percent.

In Libya, coalition forces including the U.S., Britain and France launched another wave of strikes to protect civilians from government troops and to enforce a no-fly zone. However, discord has erupted in Europe over whether the military operation in Libya should be controlled by NATO. Turkey temporarily blocked the alliance's participation while Italy issued a veiled threat to withdraw the use of its bases unless the alliance was put in charge. Germany also questioned the wisdom of the operation, and Russia's Vladimir Putin railed against the UN-backed airstrikes mounted so far against Moammar Gadhafi's forces.

The prospect of a longer shutdown in oil production in Libya, which produces about 2 percent of the world's crude oil, lingered. Crude traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange was down 22 cents at $102.87 (U.S.).

In the currency markets, both the euro and the British pound were supported by mounting expectations that both the European Central Bank and the Bank of England will raise interest rates next month. The euro hit $1.4249, its highest since November. The yen steadied as concerns about possible further G7 intervention to support the dollar stopped traders from trying to push the Japanese currency higher.

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Dollar weakness helped boost commodities such as gold, which was bolstered by the crisis in the Middle East and inflationary pressures. U.S. April futures rose 0.2 percent to $1,429.50.

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About the Author
Deputy head of Audience

Sonali Verma is deputy head of audience at the Globe and Mail. She is a business journalist with more than 20 years of experience, mainly in digital media.She was previously the Globe and Mail’s senior editor in charge of audience engagement, overseeing its homepages as well as social media operations. More

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