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Apr 24, 9:25 AM EDT

Relief over Apple and Facebook helps markets consolidate despite earlier falls in Tokyo


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LONDON (AP) -- Solid earnings from Apple and Facebook helped shore up global markets on Thursday despite an earlier hefty retreat in Tokyo.

As well as delivering forecast-busting numbers, Apple impressed investors in its after-hours statement Wednesday with its news that it is earmarking an additional $30 billion for buying back its stock through next year. The move, which is designed to give its stock price a lift following a relative period of underperformance, takes the total for that timeframe up to $90 billion.

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.

"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 was up 0.7 percent at 6,723 while Germany's DAX rose 0.3 percent to 9,577. The CAC-40 in France was 0.9 percent higher at 4,489.

Wall Street was poised for a solid opening, with Dow futures 0.2 percent higher and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.5 percent. Solid orders for longer-lasting U.S. goods outweighed 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 much. Obama's state visit to the Japan is the first by an American president in nearly 20 years. He also is to visit South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

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 down 0.2 percent at $1.3800 and the dollar 0.1 percent firmer at 102.59 yen. A barrel of benchmark New York crude was 34 cents higher at $101.78.

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Yuri Kageyama contributed from Tokyo.

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