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Global stocks were broadly higher after an unexpected increase in German business confidence and a dip in Spanish and Italian bond yields.

France's CAC 40 rose 1 per cent, while Germany's DAX gained 0.9 per cent. Japan's Nikkei rose 0.5 per cent. Britain's FTSE 100 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng were little changed.

U.S. stock futures pointed towards a stronger opening. Dow futures rose 79 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 11,782, while S&P 500 futures gained 10.7 points, or 0.9 per cent, rising to 1,209.70.

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The Munich-based Ifo Institute said its monthly confidence index for Europe's largest economy rose to 107.2 in December from 106.6 in November, defying expectations for a decline and underscoring the strength of the economy in the face of a sovereign debt crisis that has hammered growth in other euro zone members.

The increase indicated the eurozone crisis has so far left Germany relatively unscathed and suggested that the steady declines in German unemployment and sanguine consumers are boosting prospects for the corporate sector.

Short-term financing costs for Spain more than halved as banks swept up debt at an auction, with much of the purchasing power said to come from cut-rate money to be lent by the European Central Bank. Demand for 3- and 6-month Spanish Treasury bills was high, with more than 18-billion euros offered for 5.6-billion euros sold, above the targeted amount of 3.5-billion to 4.5-billion euros.

Italian 10-year yields fell 10 basis points to 6.76 per cent, narrowing the difference to safe-haven German bunds to 485 basis points.

In Greece, however, borrowing costs rose to 4.68 per cent for just three months. The Greek debt agency sold 1.3-billion euros of short-term debt.

Copper rose to $7,358 (U.S.) a tonne.

Gold gained $9.90 to $1,606.60 an ounce.

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U.S. crude oil traded $1.31 higher at $95.19 a barrel.

The Canadian dollar traded at 96.74 U.S. cents.

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